Dissertation Research

Title - “Three Essays on Gender, Project Management, and Performance in International Aid Organizations: The Case of Asian Development Bank”.



This dissertation investigates the role of gender differences among project managers in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and their impact on project allocation, design, and performance. By examining women's leadership in the ADB, the study extends the bureaucratic representation theory to a new context and offers insights into the mechanisms through which passive representation translates into active representation. The findings challenge conventional wisdom and highlight the need for more nuanced analyses of gender dynamics in organizational settings. Moreover, the dissertation breaks new ground by dissecting project performance measures and revealing how gender matters differently for various aspects of project success.

The dissertation employs a self-collected dataset of 3,471 ADB projects from 1998-2020. I employ linear regression models and entropy matching  to test whether women officers at ADB are associated with deeper gender mainstreaming and improved performance on gender-related projects. The results do not find evidence that women officers are associated with deeper gender mainstreaming. Interestingly, as the share of women officers in ADB increases over time, significantly fewer gender elements are included in projects. For gender-related projects, women officers are associated with improved efficiency ratings but not with ratings on relevance, effectiveness, and sustainability. To address concerns about gender selection effects, the analysis is extended to all projects, regardless of sector or gender-relevance. Multinomial-ordered logistic regressions and entropy matching are used to test the association of project managers' gender with project performance dimensions. The findings suggest that projects led by women are associated with higher performance ratings on efficiency, but no association is found with effectiveness and sustainability criteria.

The dissertation also explores the micro- and macro-determinants that inform the decision-making process of assigning projects to men or women at the ADB. The findings reveal that women are more likely to be assigned to projects in countries with better gender development indices, and women officers who have performed better on previous projects are associated with project assignments. However, no evidence is found that women are assigned to projects with more gender elements at entry or that project duration, complexity, and funding matter for assignment based on gender.

The insights gained from the ADB case study have far-reaching implications for theory, policy, and practice, emphasizing the need for more comprehensive and context-sensitive analyses of gender dynamics in development settings. This dissertation makes a significant contribution to both the bureaucratic representation literature and the international development literature, setting the stage for future research on the complex interplay between gender, organizational processes, and development outcomes.

Published Work

Research Articles

Kaur, Jasleen. “Caste and Infant Mortality in India”. The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. 45:1 (Winter 2021).


In this paper, I shed light on a puzzle in India. Scheduled Caste children are less likely than Scheduled Tribe children to survive their first birthday, even though Scheduled Castes have higher wealth, educational attainment, and access to state services than the Scheduled Tribes. This highlights a critical inequality puzzle with far-reaching policy implications. I find that where Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe children stay leads to differences in these mortality outcomes.

Guest Blogs

Kaur, Jasleen. “Do you have time to answer the same questions again?”. The Data Values Digest (blog). Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. October 24, 2022

In rural India, women are frequently subjected to repeated surveys by various organizations, leading to response fatigue and potential biases. This blog post highlights the disproportionate burden placed on women respondents and the lack of tangible benefits they receive from participating in these surveys. I argue for better collaboration among surveying organizations, increased data sharing, and the creation of local entities to manage survey inventories. By valuing respondents' time and privacy equally, researchers can conduct more ethical and equitable data collection practices that truly empower the individuals and communities they aim to serve.

Research in progress

Kaur, Jasleen, Samantha Jorgensen and Rachel Rosenberg. “Gender” in Catherine Weaver, Ji Ma, and Janet McLaren, eds. Global Development: Poverty, Inequality and the Politics of Data.


Gender, increasingly defined not only as biologically determined but also as a subject of identity, has attained a place of prominence in international development as evidenced in MDG 3 and SDG5. Nonetheless, despite a seeming deluge of data on gender, gaps remain. Over three hundred different indicators currently exist to measure gender equality in addition to a number of prominent aggregate indices.i These include the number of female legislators, ownership of assets, life expectancy, and maternal mortality. Despite these numerous efforts to quantify gender inequality, critics point out data deprivation, validity, and reliability issues that damage the conclusions we can draw from analyzing these data. Additionally, there are concerns surrounding the political use of these measures to obscure inequality and resist transformative change. The chapter begins by tracing the history of gender and development theory and practice. This background demonstrates how the evolution of theory and practice informs today’s salient debates on gender and development topics. The second section covers the indicators and indices that dominate gender and development research and policymaking, today, and assesses their strengths and weaknesses. The final section scrutinizes two popular measures and highlights the real-world complications and consequences that surround gender equality and empowerment indicators. The chapter concludes with a discussion of innovations and persisting challenges.