Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Stephen Chaudoin — Elections, War, and Gender: Choose to Run, Choose to Fight

Monday, May 1, 2023

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Birkelund Board Room, 111 Thayer Street

Most arguments for why women leaders might pursue aggressive policies during interstate conflict emphasize gendered stereotyping of international politics. We highlight a different explanation based on the self selection of certain women into candidacy for leadership positions. To illustrate this mechanism, we conduct a laboratory experiment using online real-time, group play where participants choose to run for election, run a simple campaign, and represent their group in a contest game if elected. We find that women who place a higher non-monetary value on winning were more likely to select into candidacy, win election, and then spend more resources in intergroup contests than their male counterparts. As a result, female leaders pursued more aggressive strategies than male leaders, even though women, on average, tended to invest less in one-on-one contests. These patterns appear even though our protocol stacks the deck against finding gender differences by anonymizing participants and shuffling groups. Our findings emphasize the agency and preferences of female leaders who choose to run and, subsequently, choose to fight harder in intergroup contests.

Security Studies Seminar

Stephen Chaudoin is an assistant professor of government at Harvard University. His research examines the conditions under which international organizations can compel nation states to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. He uses theories of subnational contestation between pro- and anti-compliance actors and data on public opinon to show when international organizations matter most. His work has focused on the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court. He is also interested in formal models and quantitative methods like sensitivity testing and multilevel modelling. He received his PhD from Princeton University. He previously had the honor of being an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The format of the seminar is a brief (5-minute) introduction by the author, some initial comments by a lead discussant (5-10 minutes), and then open comments from attendees (remainder of time). All attendees are expected to read the paper ahead of time, as the author will not present their research. This is a working session. Email watsonevents@brown.edu to request a copy of the paper.