Gender quotas increase the equality and effectiveness of climate policy interventions

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Interventions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions strive to promote gender balance so that men and women have equal rights to participate in, and benefit from, decision-making about such interventions. One conventional way to achieve gender balance is to introduce gender quotas. Here we show that gender quotas make interventions more effective and lead to more equal sharing of intervention benefits. We conducted a randomized ‘lab’-in-the-field experiment in which 440 forest users from Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania made decisions about extraction and conservation in a forest common. We randomly assigned a gender quota to half of the participating groups, requiring that at least 50% of group members were women. Groups with the gender quota conserved more trees as a response to a ‘payment for ecosystem services’ intervention and shared the payment more equally. We attribute this effect to the gender composition of the group, not the presence of female leaders.

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Fig. 1: Distribution of Gini coefficients for the PES payment.
Fig. 2: Difference in total group harvests between PES and pre-PES rounds.
Fig. 3: Average Ginigt and harvesting rate at each round.

Data availability

The datasets generated and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Change history

  • 17 April 2019

    In the version of this Letter originally published, the following ‘Journal Peer Review information’ was missing “Nature Climate Change thanks Björn Vollan, Kame Westerman and other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to this work.” This statement has now been added.


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We thank E. Mwangi and M. C. Lopez for collaboration during the design and implementation of the experiment in the field, the 440 men and women who agreed to participate in our lab-in-the-field experiments and Z. Cruz, T. Kusumajati and B. Naftal for coordinating the field-research activities in the three countries. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (grants DEB-1114984, BCS-1115009, SMA-328688 and SES-1757136) as well as the Center for International Forestry Research (through grants from the European Commission and the UK Department for International Development).

Author information




K.P.A. conceived the project, N.J.C. and T.G. developed the analytical approach, N.J.C. analysed the data, and K.P.A., T.G. and N.J.C. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Krister P. Andersson.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Journal peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Björn Vollan, Kame Westerman and other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to this work.

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–6, Supplementary Figures 1–6, Supplementary Tables 1–8, Supplementary Methods and Supplementary References.

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Cook, N.J., Grillos, T. & Andersson, K.P. Gender quotas increase the equality and effectiveness of climate policy interventions. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 330–334 (2019).

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