Bhumi Purohit receives political science award for study on women and politics in India

Bhumi Purohit. PHOTO: Facebook @likeAPSA

The American Political Science Association, APSA, awarded Bhumi Purohit, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown’s McCourt School, the William Anderson Award, which honors the best dissertation in the general field of federalism or intergovernmental relations, state, and local politics. The award was announced Aug. 4, 2023, during the APSA annual conference.

Purohit was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology.  Her research examines the behavioral and institutional barriers to women’s political representation, as well as institutional barriers to public service delivery, the press release about her award said.

Her research is based in India and examines questions such as: Why do women’s interests remain under-represented in politics, even with parity of electoral representation?  How do gender biases about women politicians affect public service delivery outcomes in women’s constituencies?

In her dissertation, Purohit examines why and how bureaucracies create barriers for women once they are elected to office, particularly when bureaucrats sit at higher levels of office with the ability to strategically use discretion against lower-level politicians.

The Award Committee Citation praises the dissertation, entitled, “Laments of Getting Things Done: Bureaucratic Resistance Against Female Politicians in India” saying it presents a “path-breaking examination of bureaucratic resistance to locally elected women politicians in India.”

According to the Award Committee, the study is the first of its kind to “systematically examine the gendered nature of bureaucratic resistance at the local level, three decades after decentralization reforms introduced quotas for women in local elections.”

The research is based on new survey data collated among local bureaucrats and female politicians.

Purohit’s thesis “demonstrates that bureaucrats exhibit bias against elected female politicians, expecting them to be less effective in implementing policies, less able to organize local communities to pressure the state, and that female elected village heads are significantly more likely than their male counterparts to report bureaucratic resistance.”

“This very fine contribution to our understanding of local politics and power in India provides a convincing explanation for how they make such decisions,” the Award Committee said.

Purohit earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to coming to Berkeley, she worked as a J-PAL Policy Consultant for the Ministry of Rural Development in India to create policy implementation plans for finance management reforms and rural poverty reduction, according to her biography on the eponymous website

Purohit also has experience in managing experiments and research with One Acre Fund in Kenya and running social enterprises in India and Sierra Leone.

She has a Master’s degree in Area Studies with distinction from the University of Oxford, with a concentration on Modern South Asia. Prior to that, she graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and a certificate in Documentary Film Making.



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