Assistant Professor Sarah Khan has a new article in American Political Science Review entitled “Canvassing the Gatekeepers: A Field Experiment to Increase Women Voters’ Turnout in Pakistan”.
How can we close persistent gender gaps in political participation? We develop a theory highlighting the role of male household members as “gatekeepers” of women’s participation in patriarchal settings and argue that the answer involves targeting these men. We conduct a field experiment in Pakistan and find that targeting women with a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaign has no effect on their turnout in a national election. However, women’s turnout increases substantially when male household members are canvassed to support women’s participation. Households where both men and women are canvassed see the largest increases in women’s turnout and additional increases in political discussion and men’s practical support to help women vote. Using a costly behavioral measure, we also demonstrate lasting effects on men’s supportive behavior in these households two months after the election. Our results address the importance, and tangible benefits, of engaging men to ease constraints that hinder equal participation.