Skip to main content

Gender, Deliberation, and Natural Resource Governance: Experimental Evidence from Malawi

Headshot of Amanda Clayton

Amanda Clayton


Programming to combat climate change often strives to include women's voices, but there is limited evidence on how this feature influences program design or its benefits for women. We examine the causal effect of women's representation in climate-related deliberations using the case of communally managed forests in rural Malawi. We run a lab-in-the-field experiment that randomly varies the gender composition of six-member groups asked to privately vote, deliberate, then privately vote again on their preferred policy to combat local over-harvesting. We find that women have relatively more influence in group deliberations when they make up a larger share of the group. This result cannot be explained by changes in participants' talk time. Rather, women's presence changes the content of deliberations towards topics on which women tend to have expertise. Our work suggests that including women in decision-making can shift deliberative processes to support marginalized resource users.

Dr. Clayton's current research examines questions related to gender and climate governance, including a book project that examines the origins of gender differences in climate attitudes worldwide. Her work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and International Organization among other outlets. She received her PhD from the University of Washington in 2014 and is CSSS alumni.