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Do women prefer in-group police officers? Survey and experimental evidence from India

Jassal, Nirvikar and Barnhardt, Sharon (2023) Do women prefer in-group police officers? Survey and experimental evidence from India. Comparative Political Studies. ISSN 0010-4140

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00104140231194070


Several nations have enacted gender reforms in policing, many of which are premised on the notion that women favor female officers, especially in the context of tackling violence against women (VAW). We investigate this topic in India. Evidence from the first nationally representative survey on policing (N ≈ 15,000) demonstrates high levels of bias against policewomen, including among women and VAW complainants. To estimate the causal effect of police gender on officer evaluations, we design an unusual video experiment with assistance from the news corporation New Delhi Television (N ≈ 1000). We find that policewomen are not generally preferred to policemen, and citizens have significantly unfavorable attitudes toward female officers when seen tackling VAW rather than non-VAW cases. These negative ratings are driven by female respondents. We highlight certain context-specific explanations and note that the manner in which policewomen are typecast may undercut the positive implications associated with representation. Our study is an example of shared identity increasing mistrust, and it expands the discussion about citizens using ascriptive characteristics to make inferences about politicians to include front-line bureaucrats like police officers.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Government
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2023 13:18
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2024 18:15

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