Abstract for: Closing the Leadership Gap: One Step Closer using System Dynamics

Social science theories are developed to understand problematic behavior and describe the social structure believed to be the cause. Only occasionally used, system dynamics has long been considered an ideal testing ground for such theories. Most Americans believe in equal opportunity for men and women, yet the difference between the number of men and women in leadership positions, the “leadership gap”, continues to be significant. In Justice, Gender, and the Family, Susan Moller Okin presents a feminist theory of a social structure that perpetuates the U.S. gender gap in leadership. This paper interprets Okin’s theory by translating the descriptive theory into a system dynamics model and analyzing whether the structure Okin presents produces the behavior she describes. With an eye to closing the leadership gap, the purpose of this research is to more deeply understand Okin’s theory and the ability of system dynamics to advance social science theory in general and feminist theory in particular.