Men have always occupied the highest echelons of political power in society. Be it in a traditional setting or contemporary governments around the world, and it has always been men in power, making important decisions even regarding women. It was easier than to have even women voting exclusively for men because there was no other way. Hence, the gender gap has always been a category of significant interest across the globe.
In a surprising turn of events, people, especially women, are more likely to vote to the left, as indicated in the recent elections. The society is developed so much that female candidates have become more favorable to hold high political positions than. Different women's movements have strung out, trying to empower the modern woman into being independent and running for more elevated political views. And there is evidence that this move has worked as more and more women are actively involved in politics.
Contrary to this, however, it is still surprising that very few women have held the highest positions in different countries as their president. Data show that, from 1960 to 2002, there were only 44 women who had been elected, (or perhaps vied and succeeded) to highest positions on their governments, with only 17 being as Presidents. In 2006 too, there were only seventeen countries in the world that had women as heads of governments.
Therefore does gender bias exist? And if so, what factors might be contributing to the voting gender gap across the globe? Is the political gender gap really a thing? In this article, we are going to look at these possibilities and determine the presence of gender bias in voting and political process.
Politics is a game of playing with people’s minds and convincing them to follow one’s idea. Hence, a politician will use all available resources and strategies to have as many people follow them as possible. It has been determined through many pieces of research that women think differently about politics from men. This is perhaps one of the reasons men continue dominating the field despite efforts to end male monotony. Physically and traditionally, women are more gentle; hence they prefer a subtle approach, even to political powers, as opposed to men who are more aggressive and will use, even force, to gain what they want. And also though modern voters are getting smarter, politicians still find different ways of manipulating and convincing them to achieve what they want.
Contrary to popular belief that people apply deliberate, rational strategies when deciding a vote, especially in major political decisions, studies show that individuals use shallow decision intuitions. Such clues include impressions made particularly from facial appearance. Evidence indicates that the facial appearance of a person may make them favorable for a legislative seat, as seen from the recent US congress elections. Another research revealed that facial appearance between candidates alone is enough to determine who will win an election. Even though there are apparent efforts to educate voters on policy stances that differentiate politicians and their parties, voters still look at what the candidate looks like when casting their votes. Some even look at the photo on the ballot box and decide instantly.
Gender, without any surprise, affects how people evaluate and perceive facial looks. Throughout history, there have been cultural stereotypes that determine attractiveness, dominance, and approachability in both sexes. Social role theory, for instance, states that men are expected to be strong and assertive. Women, on the other hand, should be nurturing and sensitive. Hence male facials can be considered attractive and or dominant is they have particular features associated with physical strength.
In contrast, women are attractive if they have what they call “baby face” features and less physical. Thus, society looks at both male and female members in terms of their attractiveness. This, in many instances, encourages biased voting.
In addition to affecting how people examine faces, gender impacts substantially different levels of leadership. This includes how people lead and whether or not they are seen as a leader. For instance, because of their subtle nature, women are more likely to apply a transformational approach to leadership where men may use transactions (like exchange-like), or relaxed styles. Men are perceived to perform better in masculine roles where they are expected to directly control people, whereas a woman will be more likely voted for roles that require interpersonal sensitivity. Hence, where voters think of tasks that require a masculine leadership approach, they will vote for a man. And if they believe a political position requires a more subtle approach, they will vote for women. Even though gender facial appearance influences and leadership, it is not very clear whether or not gender has any effect on the process of leadership selection.
The modern society is defined by gender numbers, more than gender roles. And that is why women make 46% of the labor force across the globe. But when scrutinized, there is clear evidence that significant inequalities remain, and this has a significant economic impact on the world. Today, there are so many myths about gender inequality. The truth is, gender inequality is not a myth, especially in the voting sphere.
Gender-based prejudice in voting is not something new today. It has gone through different stages of development, as society changes. In the past five decades, we have witnessed significant progress in women’s equality all across the world. Developed countries with democratic systems, in particular, have implicated regulations in narrowing the gender gap and empowering women. Many states have even passed laws to have 50% or more women representation in both upper and lower houses.
Despite these efforts, very few women reach the top. In modern society, only a handful of women sit on top political positions as leaders of their governments. This shows just how much male domination continues to spread across the globe. However, it is much less today, as powerful women like Hillary Clinton are coming up to encourage young generations of women to take up major leadership roles. Luckily, society is more flexible for these changes.
Apr 27, 2020