Gender Issues in Public and Municipal Administration

Anna V. Dergunova,
School of Public Administration, HSE

Kirill I. Alekseev,
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO


The gender aspect in public and municipal administration has been discussed for several years by the heads of state and the UN.  An example is the directive of the Government of the Russian Federation of March 8, 2017, number 410-r, which provides for the creation of conditions for increasing the proportion of women among people who fill the posts of state and civil service and municipal service.  It is noteworthy that in Russia, a woman was never appointed chairman of the government, she did not act as a speaker of the Parliament. Many articles on governance issues have suggested that men and women are characterized by different approaches to governance and views on government issues. Some political scientists are of the opinion that in order to achieve the greatest efficiency it is necessary to strive for gender balance in government bodies.

Key words: governance, values, gender proportion, civil and municipal service

Main body:

First of all, it is necessary to consider the values of men and women in terms of public and municipal administration.  Women are more likely than men to have democratic and social values; they are most inclined to support social policy and take care of the interests of citizens [1].

On the basis of an empirical research conducted in 2015 among 72 municipal employees in two districts of St. Petersburg, by means of a survey, there were identified two groups of values typical of public servants: managerial and political.  Researchers have identified a relationship between gender and a group of values: women have managerial values, and men have political values [1]. “The commitment of women to management values shows that they are aimed at communicating with citizens and are representatives of a socially-oriented management style” [1, p. 15]. This suggests that they are more inclined to listen to other people's opinions, to strive for the maximum satisfaction of the interests of others, however, they often may not have enough willpower and determination to implement all their plans. The latter is more typical for men who, due to their political values, are able to defend their position, are full of self-control and are not afraid of changes.

There is an opinion that, because of their leftism, women are less likely than men to tolerate corruption, in addition, they pay great attention to maintaining peace: this is due to the fact that they are more ethical and less individualistic. [2] Some people believe that women, because of their reproductive function, do not accept violence and therefore have good negotiation skills and are committed to peacekeeping [2].  It can be noted that choosing the vector of development of the state, men consider it to be more justified to invest in economic development than in public goods and social support, but this does not characterize their managerial abilities, but only speaks of differences in approaches.

Thus, a man in the context of public and municipal administration can be considered as a person who is characterized by individualism and authoritarianism, but he is able to make quick and clear decisions, to defend his position.  A woman can be successful because of her attention to citizens, focus on social policy, democracy and intolerance to violence.

To begin with, it is noteworthy that nowadays in most countries, albeit at different levels, there is an objective preponderance towards men in public and municipal adminstration, and more and more attention is being paid to this issue every day. “Unfortunately, despite the adoption by the UN General Assembly on December 20, 1954 of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, where, for the first time at such a high level, women were officially recognized equal rights to participate in government, today these rights often remain declarative" [1, p. 11]. This fact becomes an obstacle to the equal influence of the sexes on social reality.

More and more people support the position of gender neutrality in society, of the equal desire of men and women to be able to control the state.  It is noteworthy that the superiority of one of the sexes can lead to the fact that the country will develop “one-sided”, and the interests of one of the groups will go by the wayside, however, the percentage of women who are able to significantly influence state decisions is still  small [1]. All these prerequisites suggest that a balanced sex proportion, both at all levels of government, and in all state branches and municipal government is the most optimal and can improve the quality of management and government decision-making.

 In this regard, it is necessary to consider methods of achieving this balance.  Based on the fact that the values and approaches to management are different for men and women, we can say that “taking into account these characteristics, it is worthwhile to carry out the division of labor, where public servants of both sexes will act as experts and improve a certain sphere of society ”[1, p. 16]. Moreover, taking advantage of the “unification” of the values of men and women, we can come to a balance in government bodies and gain maximum profit from this. Another method of restoring gender balance is the introduction of special educational programs aimed at supporting women who are interested in politics and public authority [2]. Also, ensuring gender balance in our case is possible through neutral gender quotas, which will help us adjust the gender composition in state and municipal government. Mindfull the fact that women have a poorly developed political group of values, it would be useful to introduce special trainings and seminars for their development [1].

Thus, we can say that the gender balance in the system of public and municipal administration is recognized as the most successful way of gender distribution.  To establish it, a number of measures are necessary, such as: quotas, additional trainings and educational programs, a “vector for combining the values of both sexes”, a competent separation of activities and areas.

The gender balance in public and municipal administration, achieved by increasing the proportion of women at various levels of government, can have many positive effects.  To begin with, on the basis of some studies, the fact was recognized that women are less corrupt than men, increasing their representation can reduce the level of “theft” from the country's budget, in addition, there is a correlation between the level of corruption and peace in the country [2].  This suggests that the gender balance will help establish the situation “inside” the state apparatus, influence the behavior of officials, as well as maintain peace in the nation and avoid armed conflicts.

There is also an opinion that “a government system may be less hierarchical and more democratic if it includes representatives of both sexes” [1, p. 11]. In my opinion, the adoption of measures to restore gender balance will be a signal that the right of citizens to actively participate in state affairs is indeed respected.

Based on the differences in the value orientations of men and women, M. Grogan and K. Stivers say that increasing the proportion of women will establish a gender balance and serve as a way to increase the role of the public sector in the social sphere [1].

Equal gender representation can also contribute to a more complete satisfaction of the interests of all groups of citizens.  For example, some government issues and problems are directly related to women or men, and if there is a shortage of one or another gender group in state and municipal government bodies, this can negatively affect the nature of decisions made.

In addition, gender balance is of great importance in the framework of increasing the importance of intangible values, the development of cultural pluralism [1]. The combination of male and female value orientations and management approaches will contribute to the development of a more competent public policy that takes into account these modern trends, because an integrated approach is always important in management.


The value orientations of men and women, their approaches to the issue of management have many differences.  However, I believe that this fact should be considered only on the positive side, because in public and municipal administration a comprehensive vision of the situation and a full competent assessment of decisions can play a decisive role.

The fact that men and women see and understand public and municipal administration differently suggests the need for an optimal gender balance in the public administration system.  Such an “optimum” is gender balance, which can be achieved in many ways.  In my opinion, the most effective may be the introduction of courses and trainings to develop the necessary skills and improve the level of qualification.

All of the above once again emphasizes the importance of balanced male and female representation in public and municipal administration.  Gender balance can significantly affect the method of making state decisions, the atmosphere in the team and contribute to maintaining peace in the country. It can also affect the hierarchy, teach women and men to work “as a whole” for the benefit of citizens, which is very important.  In addition, I believe that gender balance is a way to ensure the uniform development of all spheres of life, effectively meeting the needs of all groups of people.


  1. Kozyrev AA, Goryacheva D. (2015) A. Values of public servants: a gender aspect // Management Consulting. Vol. 9. P. 8-19.
  2. DiRienzo Cassandra E. (2019) The effect of women in government on country-level peace // Global Change, Peace & Security. 2019. Vol. 31(1). P. 1-18.
  3. United Nations, Convention on the Political Rights of Women, 31 March 1953
  4. Bakharev V.V., Nadeev G.A (2014) Criteria for the optimization of gender relations in the government bodies // Social and humanitarian Knowledge. 2014 Vol. 8. P. 33-39