The issue of difference in the political behavior of men and women are not a new one. It has been a significant discussion on the political culture as well as public opinion. Gender-gap, as it is called, has been discussed for many generations in Western democracies and many other part s of the word. Three dominant perspectives emerge from these discussions:
Male dominants continue to raise debate even as democratic campaigns try to create a balance. There are very few women in significant political positions and world leadership positions. Many of the names you will hear are men, leaving many to wonder why women are often left out. It is better today, and society is changing and accepting better ways of dealing with issues. Technological advancement has created a balanced world where everyone is exposed to equal opportunities. Hence women have better chances of being represented.
Many states in the world, including the USA, have passed bills for having 50% women representation both in the lower house and the upper house. In contrast, however, there seems to be still a huge gap between these two genders. One of the significant issues is finding leadership skills among women. Many may be willing to be there, but they don’t have what it takes motivate support. Rwanda is among the few countries in the world that have tried to include a more significant number of women in political positions. Even though men still hold major ones, it evident they have made considerable progress in embracing societal change.
Another area where women lack representation is in the business sector. Think of major corporations in the world, the great entrepreneurs, and the best CEOs; many of them are men. There are very few names of women in the world that appear here.
It is impressive, though, how society has changed its perception of women. Significant figures like Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and, of course, Queen Elizabeth have been a major encouragement for the world around them. Today, many women are coming out of their shells to take charge of their lives and make a difference.
Women indeed think differently from men, and that is perhaps the reason it could seem they have a different approach to political issues. Women are seen as subtle creatures; they don’t know how to use the same force as men to get what they want. Even as the fight for equal rights with men, there is evidence that physiologically, it will be impossible to get there. It is good to have a society where women are taken at the same level as men. It has been proven beyond doubt that women have better ways of handling issues than men, especially in a matter of peace. Hence, they do not look at some political process in the same manner as men, which perhaps make them fall behind. In many instances, however, these are strengths that, if embraced, can change the society substantially.
A significant part of this article will focus on this aspect. Across history, the gender gap has always been a determining factor in the way women and men relate. Unlike class, religion, or region, gender has never been a precise cut in determining the electoral choice. Both women and men experience, until today, cross-cutting cleavages, their different voting behavior cannot be ascertained in terms of the upper-middle class. Yet gender will always remain a point of interest in political culture research.
The history of gender voting gap can be divided into about three phases:
- The traditional gender gap phase. This is the phase that lasted from the beginning until the late 1970s/80s. Women vote more conservatively as compared to men. Their voting behavior was more towards what men were going for, mostly because they were few to no women representation in a political position. Women were described with more pronounced religiosity and low market participation in the labor market. This could also explain their voting behavior as such. There was a clear cut between duties where a woman was at the center of religion and a traditional family setting (her devotion to family). These aspects all worked in favor of a more conservative female vote.
- The female de-alignment phase. This period started at the end of 1970 when gender differences in ballot started to close. There was substantially diminishing in countries like Canada, the USA, and the Netherlands. A partial explanation of this phase can be found with the modernization and secularization processes. Also, the decomposition of cleavages had something to do with this phase.
- The modern gender voting gap. This phase started shortly after the 1980s. A surprising new gender-driven voting difference arose in America and other advanced democracies like West Germany and the Netherlands. The gender gap was reversed, though, exhibiting preferences for women candidates in parties on the left ever since this third phase has been the world by storm.
Inglehart and Norris (2000, 449), carried out an investigation which concluded that half of the post-industrial countries (excluding Spain and Finland), has the new gender gap in place until the 1990s. At this time, the traditional gender voting gap was will eminent in many developing and post-communist nations. In 2009, a study by Giger (2009) indicated that most Western European countries have a modern gender gap. However, women seem to be still voting to the right than their male counterparts in Italy and Spain.
The modern gender gap has become quite complicated, with missing cross-national evidence about its situation. None of it seems to support Inglehart’s and Norris’s theory of realignment. Hence, describing the current situation in gender differences across Europe and the world is a crucial subject in contemporary politics. One thing that comes out clear is that female voting is different and will continue to be so because of individual-level and macro-level determinants. Whereas there are various movements to eliminate voting gender gaps, it is clear that such efforts may not bear fruits just yet.
Apr 29, 2020