Gender Empowerment: Effects of Gods, Geography, and GDP


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Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
Gender Empowerment: Effects of Gods, Geography, and GDP
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European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Fenley M., Antonakis J.
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Given the large sex-ratio disparities in certain occupations, particularly those of high status, understanding cultural antecedents of between-country variation in gender inequality is important. Countries differ in many ways, whether on economic, geographic, or other more intangible factors. For instance, societies prescribe and proscribe the social roles that women and men should assume. In this study we look at one cultural-level variable, religion, to explain why there are more women in high-level positions in some countries than in others.We examined the determinants of women’s empowerment in the economy and politics in 178 countries. Given the androcentric nature of most religions, we hypothesized that high degrees of country-level theistic belief create social conditions that impede the progression of women to power. The dependent variable was the Gender Empowerment index of the United Nations Development Program, which captures the participation of women in politics, management, and share of national income. Controlling for GDP per capita as well as the fixed-effects of the dominant type of religion and legal origin and instrumenting all endogenous variables with geographic or historical variables, our results show that atheism has a significant positive effect on gender empowerment. These results are driven by the rule of law, which, in addition to being a catalyst for economic development, appears to crowd-out the informal regulation of behavior due to religious norms. Our identification of degree of religiosity as a key variable that affects women’s ascendance to top-level leadership positions and its link to the rule of law has important policy implications, particularly legal ones. It would be desirable–economically as well as ethically–that progression to top positions of political or economic power depends on individuals’ abilities and competencies and, all else being equal, not because of their sex.
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23/01/2011 19:14
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20/08/2019 14:23
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