Women's Leadership as a Route to Greater Empowerment: Report on the Diamond Leadership Model


U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Women are increasingly moving into political leadership. Around the world today, women are receiving appointments to executive cabinets, leading political parties, serving on the benches of high courts, and commanding security forces. However, existing cross-national research on women’s political power overwhelmingly focuses on women’s representation in national legislatures and executive ministries. In this study, we propose a model to capture women’s political leadership in a broader way: the Diamond Leadership Model (DLM). The model spans three levels of leadership (high, mid, and low) and four government sectors (legislative, executive, judicial, and security) using a weighted design. We then collect data on DLM indicators for low, lower-middle, and upper-middle income countries around the world. This research demonstrates the feasibility of collecting consistent and comparable data on women’s leadership in three of the four sectors; only security sector data proved especially difficult to find. Results from the pilot study suggest that women’s representation across sectors is often highly uneven, but we do not find evidence that women are concentrated in the least prestigious positions. Of the 9 indicators with good coverage, women are best represented among appellate judges and worst among party leaders and mayors. The DLM also relates weakly to existing measures of gender equality across countries, suggesting that researchers and advocates are missing out on important variation in women’s political leadership.



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