Female Representation in Legislative Committees and Perceptions of Legitimacy: Evidence from a Harmonized Experiment in Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia



How does the gender composition of deliberative committees affect citizens’ evaluations of decision-making processes? Do citizens perceive decisions made by gender-balanced, legislative bodies as more legitimate than those made by all-male bodies? Extant work on the link between women’s descriptive representation and perceptions of democratic legitimacy in advanced democracies finds the equal presence of women legitimizes decision-making processes. However, this relationship has not been tested in more patriarchal, less democratic settings. We employ survey experiments in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia to investigate how citizens respond to gender representation in committees. We find that women’s presence promotes citizens’ perceptions of the legitimacy of committee processes and outcomes, and moreover, that pro-women decisions are associated with higher levels of perceived legitimacy. Thus, this study demonstrates remarkable robustness of findings from theWest regarding gender representation and contributes to the burgeoning literature on women’s descriptive representation, and women and politics in gender conservative settings

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A revised version of the manuscript



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