Working Papers

Mai Hassan and Thomas O’Mealia. “Representative Bureaucracy Here But Not There: Gender Norms and Quota Compliance in Kenya.”


Many countries have adopted gender quotas to create more representative bureaucracies.  Bureaucratic elites within an agency, however, may be hesitant to  implement a quota uniformly across all localities if they perceive geographic variation in role congruence, or the degree to which the duties of a position match gender roles.  Hiring elites will strive to meet a gender quota in the aggregate by hiring more women in localities in which role congruence is perceived to be highest. Evidence from appointments to Kenya’s most important security agency after the adoption of a gender quota support the theory.  We show that legislation mandating bureaucratic reform can produce varied results when the level of implementation is lower than the level at which the quota is legislated and monitored: uneven implementation allows bureaucratic elite to meet the quota,  allowing the agency to avoid legislative oversight and preserve autonomy, while undermining the spirit of the reform.


Book Chapters in Preparation

Mai Hassan. “The Local Politics of Resource Distribution” in The Oxford Handbook of Kenyan Politics.

This chapter discusses the various institutions by which Kenyan presidents have distributed development resources to the population over the country’s first five decades after independence. Resource distribution during this period largely followed either a center-led or local-led track. Each president designed his own center-led resource distribution strategies to best distribute state resources to his co-ethnic base in light of the group’s geographic location and representation in the bureaucracy. Presidents have designed local-led tracks to check the power of, and since the return of multi-party elections to bargain with, legislative elites. The resulting distribution patterns of both tracks have been driven by ethnic politics within the distributing patron’s electoral constituency. The ethnic (sub-)groups that most strongly support the patron have been those that have benefited the most.

Mai Hassan. “Decentralization and Democratization.” in Handbook of Democratization in Africa.