Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Sarah Khan — Personal is Political: Gendered Preference Expression in Pakistan

Friday, February 22, 2019

2:00pm – 4:00pm

McKinney Conference Rm, 111 Thayer St

Sarah Khan is a Postgraduate Associate at the Yale MacMillan Center. Her research interests lie in gender and the political economy of development, with a regional specialization in South Asia.

In this paper Khan develops and tests a theory of how gender inequality within the household is reproduced in the political sphere, and undermines prospects for women’s substantive representation. Drawing on an original face-to-face survey conducted in 800 house-holds in the Faisalabad district of Pakistan, she shows that men and women within the same household prioritize systematically different public goods and services based on the context-specific division of household labor. Using a novel behavioral measure of political communication, I demonstrate that women attach a lower value to their distinctive preferences than men, and are less willing to communicate these preferences to political representatives. The gendered asymmetry in preference assertion has implications for democratic theories of representation: it suggests that the link between political participation and substantive representation may be undermined by gender inequality within the household.

Sarah’s research interests lie at the intersection of gender and comparative politics, with a regional specialization in South Asia. In her work she explores gender gaps in political preferences, and the barriers to women’s participation and substantive representation in Pakistan. In another strand of research, she explores questions related to the prevention of violence against women. Her research has been generously supported by grants from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, the Abdul Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) Governance Initiative, and the National Science Foundation.

South Asia Seminar