The Impact of Women in Public Office

How do we get more women in politics?
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This gap is driven in part, but not exclusively, by the views of Republican men. The gender gap is generally less pronounced among Democrats and those who lean Democratic, but there are some significant differences between Democratic men and women. Many Americans are skeptical that women will ever be able to overcome the obstacles keeping them from achieving gender parity in business and political leadership. Women express more skepticism than men about the possibility of gender parity in top leadership positions in business and politics.

A majority of the public says that having more women in top leadership positions in business and politics would improve life for all Americans — and, specifically, for women and men — at least some, but relatively small shares see the potential for a large positive impact. Perhaps unsurprisingly — considering that women are more likely than men to say there are too few women in leadership positions — there is a gender divide in how people see the impact of more women holding these positions. There are also double-digit differences in the shares of women and men saying more women in leadership would do a lot to improve life for all Americans 17 percentage points and for men 10 points.

Partisans are also deeply divided. By contrast, opinions of Republican men, Republican women and Democratic women on this issue have remained relatively stagnant. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.

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It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Publications Topics Interactives Datasets Experts.

Views on the state of gender and leadership and obstacles for women | Pew Research Center

Politics Business. Pagination Next: 2. Daring to join the male-dominated world of Nigerian politics was a tough decision for Ladi Mamman Watila, particularly in the conservative north-eastern state of Borno. Most of her opponents were men who felt she was better suited to the kitchen than the rough and tumble of national politics. That was 15 years ago, but not much has changed for women like Watila who are battling for equal representation and participation in the political sphere. Five national elections have been held in Nigeria since when the country returned to democratic governance after years of military rule.

But only a handful of women have ever held public office. Just three percent of people elected to public office in were women. By that figure increased to about seven per cent in but in , the numbers once again declined to 5. Currently, just seven out of legislators in the Senate the upper house of the Assembly are female. The reasons for the under-representation of women in Nigerian politics are numerous. This is particularly noticeable through the prism of religion.

Nigeria is a multi-religious state with almost the same number of Christians and Muslims amongst its million-strong population. However, conservative interpretations of both religions mean that female politicians in Nigeria have to fight both cultural and religious bottlenecks to make it into the corridors of power. Aji says that despite having the backing of her family, she still faced stiff opposition from male politicians. I tried to correct the misunderstanding.

I explained that I only desired to represent them. But they removed my campaign posters. I lost the election. Therefore, we map patterns in the gender gap across types of participation, beginning with the most pervasive forms of electoral participation and moving on to newer forms of protest participation and then to the participatory attitudes and activities that encourage engaged participation. First identified in American politics, the gender gap in favor of men was supported by comparative research.

For all seven countries in their cross-national study in the s, Verba, Nie, and Kim found that men voted at higher rates than women. Yet recent decades ushered in more equal rates of voter participation.

Among whites, blacks, and Latinos alike, women have voted at higher rates in the last eight presidential elections. In the presidential election, the proportion of eligible women voting was And comparative research offers support for this trend as well.

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Across several European democracies in the s, women were voting at similar rates to men Christy, In contemporary elections, we observe only small gender gaps in voter turnout. Figure 2 presents gender differences in voter participation across 16 countries.

Differences are found by subtracting the percentage of men who cast a ballot from the percentage of women. Thus, negative values signify more men casting a ballot in a given election.

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For 11 of the 16 countries in the figure, men still turn out to vote at higher rates in recent elections. Yet countries vary in the size of the gap. Figure 2. Gender differences in voter participation across nations. More egalitarian levels of voter turnout in recent decades can be attributed to greater equality in some of the factors that encourage voting for men and women alike. Relative to the past, many societies today witness greater gender equality in education and workforce participation. It is important to note that women have not yet achieved full equality in these areas.

Further, voting is a unique political activity because it is pervasive and, among different modes of participation, requires the fewest resources such as time, information, and civic skills. Even in recent years Burns, Scholzman, and Verba find that U. Patterns from the United States hold up in comparative perspective: men remain significantly more likely than women to have contacted a politician, joined a political party, or attended a political meeting.

Women in Political Office

At the same time, however, substantial variation exists across democracies. The bulk of the literature on gender and political behavior focuses on the United States, and most of the cross-national research is limited to Western, industrialized nations. Recently, however, important research has considered the gendered nature of political participation in other regions of the world. Similarly, across sub-Saharan Africa, Coffe and Bolzendahl find that women are less likely than men to contact a politician or participate in collective actions.

Only recently has research begun to compare levels of political participation across different types of women. In the United States, black men and women participate at similar rates. Among women, Brown finds that across forms of electoral participation, white and Asian women record higher levels than Latina or black women. Women simply have fewer resources, relative to men, and resources are crucial predictors of engagement. Another set of explanations for gender gaps rests upon socioeconomic development.

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The Impact of Women in Public Office and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Susan J. Carroll is Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Senior Research Associate at the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) of the Eagleton Institute. "[A] well-integrated volume by one of the best known political scientists working on women and politics. [It] includes contributions by leading.

Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris argue that perceptions of appropriate roles for women and men in politics are shaped by broader patterns of societal values and priorities, which in turn rest on economic development and religious traditions. More economically developed and secular countries are associated with more egalitarian gender attitudes.

Given the speed of secularization in Europe and other democracies since the s, religion may play a smaller role in structuring traditional gendered patterns among contemporary electorates. The structure of the economy may influence gender and political behavior in a variety of ways. In addition to shaping values and attitudes, economic growth has also been considerably gendered.

As more women have entered paid employment, they have often found themselves in particular sectors of the job market, often the types of occupations that are undervalued and underpaid. In this way, the gendered nature of paid employment continues to shape the distribution of resources.

Group ties can encourage political participation. However, we have noted that gender is only one identity among many. Instead, among groups of women, shared interests may hold greater potential for mobilization. Given the historic importance of the civil rights movement, collective consciousness may be especially important among black women. Since the s, citizens have increasingly participated in new forms of political activity. Examples of these protest activities include signing a petition, attending a demonstration, or boycotting a product.

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Following the complex patterns found in electoral participation, we cannot make blanket statements about gender differences in protest participation. Instead, gender differences vary across different forms of protest participation. And among these women, protest participation is higher among white and Asian American women Brown, Political consumerism, a set of political activities including buying or boycotting products or services for political or ethical reasons, is on the rise across most democracies. The pioneering work of Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti reveals that women are more likely to engage in political consumer activities than men.

Given the traditional gendered division of labor, women often spent more time caring for their families than men. In the past, women did more shopping than men, and buying or boycotting a particular product for ethical reasons is a natural extension of careful consumer activity. In fact, it is possible that some citizens do not perceive boycotting as a political act, in the traditional sense. Further, nonelectoral activity may be more gender egalitarian because of the close connections between protest movements in general and the feminist movement since the s.

Engagement with the political process is one the most direct and important factors in predicting participation. For instance, working on a campaign normally requires certain prerequisites such as being interested in politics, seeking out information on candidate and party policy positions, attending meetings, and making contacts with a campaign organization. Gender gaps in political engagement persist today and are found across democracies.

And these gaps are statistically significant in most instances. At the same time, gender gaps vary across countries. For example, the gender gap in political knowledge is 20 percentage points in Poland and 11 percentage points in the United States. Further, gender gaps in political engagement are not limited to the United States or Western Europe. Importantly, the types of knowledge questions posed can affect whether or not a gender gap emerges. For standard factual items, such as government structures and party politics, gender gaps in political knowledge are exacerbated.

In addition to actual political knowledge scores, there are gender differences in perceptions of political knowledge. In a study of social networks of political discussion partners, Mendez and Osborn found that both men and women perceive women to be less politically knowledgeable than men, without regard to actual levels of knowledge.

Similar to participation, resource-based explanations have been offered for gender gaps in engagement. However, these resource explanations find less traction in this area than when explaining electoral forms of participation. On the one hand, resources may be connected to gender differences in political knowledge. In the context of U. The inability of individual-level factors to fully account for gender differences in the participatory attitudes and activities that lead to full political engagement has led scholars to consider the ways that social, economic, and legal change have altered gender differences in political involvement.

Socialization of traditional gender roles may discourage women from participating in politics. However, measuring the impact of gender role socialization on political activity at the individual level has proved difficult. Socialization processes may work differently across political systems. Nancy Burns points out that the social and political context can make gender more or less relevant. The salience of particular issues or policies may highlight gender inequalities in a given election.

In addition, policy changes can mobilize certain groups around gender issues. One of the most promising contextual influences has been the presence of women in politics at the elite level. The very presence of women in elected office may have a transformative influence on women and men, altering shared perceptions about the appropriate role of women in the political arena.

In studies of the United States, there are mixed findings linking the presence of women in elected office to mass-level participation. Sapiro and Conover find that women residing in districts with women candidates are more politically engaged than women residing in districts without. However, other studies of American politics offer contradictory findings. Highly visible offices are covered more often in the news media and signify power. Similarly, comparative studies of the links between women in office and mass participation offer contradictory results.

Across a set of European nations, Wolbrecht and Campbell find descriptive representation narrows gender differences in political participation. Drawing on a cross-national survey of adolescents, differences in intentions to participate between girls and boys decline in countries with more women in office. The findings suggest a socialization effect in which women politicians serve as role models, inspiring young women to become active in politics.

However, there has been little empirical support for this expectation. Similarly, Kittilson and Schwindt-Bayer uncover only limited support for the effects of quota policies across a set of democracies in the areas of political interest, persuading others, and campaign work. For example, Uruguay adopted gender quotas in Comparison of survey data before and after the passage of the quota policy reveals largely static levels of political interest, knowledge and participation among men and women.

Yet the impact of quota policies on participation rates may take some time to be observed. The effects of quota policies for mass political behavior may be positive, or perhaps even negative. On the one hand, gender quotas may have their strongest influence on young men and women, and we may witness greater equality in future participation rates. Further, it is possible that there is limited public knowledge about these quota policies.

On the other hand, gender quota policies may encourage a backlash against women in politics. Quotas may be seen as allowing unqualified women to enter politics, reifying traditional stereotypes surrounding the suitability of men for elected office and for political engagement more generally. Indeed, political institutions and party systems may also condition gender gaps in political involvement. Kittilson and Schwindt-Bayer find that inclusive electoral institutions that produce more proportional electoral outcomes narrow gender differences in mass political engagement. Indeed, electoral rules originally designed to promote social inclusion at the elite level also promote inclusion among the electorate.

Chapter 7: Women in Power and Decisionmaking

Importantly, the burgeoning field of gender and political behavior shows that the way that ordinary citizens connect to the democratic process is gendered. On average, relative to men, women prefer different parties, are less engaged and less active in politics, and participate in different ways. Overall, voting is the mode of participation that yields the most gender equality. Casting a ballot is the most ubiquitous form of participation and carries the least amount of policy-specific input. Far fewer citizens engage in campaign work, donate to a party or candidate, or engage in other forms of electoral participation.

These forms of participation also require more political resources, information, skills, and time. Gender differences in other forms of electoral participation mean that party and elected officials hear less from women in the electorate. Measuring the scope of gender gaps in political preferences and political activity has proven easier than explaining the forces behind these dynamic gaps.

To date, no single explanatory factor accounts for gender gaps across all types of participation, nor across different types of women. Certainly these sets of explanation are interrelated and likely interact in complex and to date largely untested ways. Recent research in the context of American elections may offer some lessons for cross-national research.

New research also highlights that gender interacts with race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class.

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Following Hancock , future research in political behavior should account for multiple identities. These interactions are important not only for predicting political preferences but also for understanding how and why citizens engage with the democratic process in the first place. Studying these interactions is another important area of research because it helps us understand who has voice and the causal factors affecting these patterns. Research in the American context has begun to consider patterns among different types of women.

The Impact of Women in Political Leadership Positions

Comparative research should follow suit by unpacking the relationships among gender, class, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. If we are to understand how parties can connect with subsets of women and men, then we must compare these relationships across a variety of party systems. Individual-level, resource-based explanations for gender gaps in political involvement implicitly place the burden of equal participation on women themselves.