Giving Compass' Take:

• At Futurity, Sandra Knispel describes the unintended discriminatory effects of India's gender quotas towards already underrepresented groups.

• How do India's gender quotas reflect the pervasiveness of discrimination throughout politics everywhere? How important is political representation in reducing cyclical marginalization? What can we do to address gaps in equality in politics worldwide?

• Learn about what Tanzania is doing to increase representation of women in leadership roles.

Gender quotas in politics may have unintended consequences for other underrepresented groups, a study in India finds.

The study looked at India’s caste system and female representation in local government, where female-reserved seats have been enshrined in the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Indian Constitution since the early 1990s.

“The effect of electoral quotas for women in India was to reduce the representation of lower caste groups,” says lead author Alexander Lee, an associate professor in the political science department at the University of Rochester, who looked specifically at what happened in Delhi in local elections once gender quotas were introduced. “In many poorer or developing countries electoral quotas can reduce the representation of marginalized groups.”

For their study, Lee and his coauthor, Varun Karekurve-Ramachandra, a PhD graduate student in the same department, examined the consequences of women quotas on the electoral representation of caste groups in local government bodies in Delhi. They found that constituencies reserved for women were less likely—compared to unreserved constituencies—to elect members of groups where the status of women was low.

In practice, this meant that those reserved constituencies were less likely to elect members of several traditionally underprivileged groups—especially of the so-called “Other Backward Class” or OBC castes—a collective term the Indian Government uses to classify educationally or socially disadvantaged castes. Instead, the scientists discovered, voters in women-reserved constituencies tended to elect candidates from the Hindu upper castes.

“In India if you have a policy that lets you choose only women, a disproportionate number of these women will be upper caste,” says Lee.

Read the full article about India's gender quotas by Sandra Knispel at Futurity.