Unveiling the Veil: A Prize to Naila Shofia
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Unveiling the Veil: A Prize to Naila Shofia

A STUDY ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND THE GROWING POPULARITY OF RELIGIOUS HEADSCARVES IN INDONESIA EARNED HER THE ECONOMICS JOB MARKET BEST PAPER AWARD BY UNICREDIT FOUNDATION

Naila Shofia, a PhD Candidate at Bocconi PhD in Public Policy and Administration, is one of the five recipients of the Economics Job Market Best Paper Award by Unicredit Foundation, reserved for PhD candidates attending the European Economic Job Market, which is taking place virtually. The award was presented yesterday.
 
In her job market paper, “Modestly Ambitious: Religious Veiling and the Public Role of Women” (CLICK here for a blog post on World Bank’s Development Impact), Naila Shofia re-examines a symbol of female religious piety: the Muslim headscarf. While veiling is commonly seen as a symptom of religious fundamentalism or women's oppression, the evidence shows that this practice implies neither poverty nor lack of education. She collects a novel dataset, based on human coding of high school yearbook pictures, in 49 districts in Indonesia for more than two decades and shows that veiling represents an effort by young women to reconcile their desire to benefit from new economic opportunities and the prevailing social norms in society.
 
“The veil signals certain attributes, such as feminine, rule-abiding, or faithful. Such signaling,” explains Shofia, “helps young women to counter-balance traits associated with the act of taking employment outside the home, such as autonomy, ambition, or disregard of traditional morality, which may conflict with social norms. As a result, veiling increases when there are more job opportunities, as there are more incentives for women to leave their homes, but at the same time, they want to retain their reputation in society.”

by Fabio Todesco

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