Increasing the number of women in decision-making groups isn't necessarily enough to give them greater power, according to researchers at Princeton University and Brigham Young University.
Through controlled experiments and an examination of dozens of school boards from across the country and racial-dialogue groups, the researchers found that women's influence depends not just on their numbers but also on the way a group makes its decisions.
Tali Mendelberg, a professor of politics at Princeton, and Christopher Karpowitz, an associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University who earned his Ph.D. at Princeton, explain their research and conclusions in "The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation and Institutions," published this year by Princeton University Press.
In this Q&A, Mendelberg discusses the research and how groups — as well as individuals — can apply the findings:
Question: What led you to research the power of women in decision-making?
Answer: There's a movement around the world to try to increase the number of women in political decision-making bodies, but very little is understood about what happens when the number of women rises. As the number of women rises, do you see women participating more and making a difference in policy? It's not clear that you do. Sometimes the numbers help, and sometimes they don't.