Understanding public support for policies aimed at gender parity in politics: A cross-national experimental study

Four diverse women smiling, two of them shaking hands
Professor Andrea Carson, Professor Leah Ruppaner, Timothy B. Gravelle & Lía Acosta Rueda, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 22 January 2024

Across the globe, women are underrepresented in elected politics. This study focuses on countries that rank poorly for women’s political representation: Australia (ranked 33), Canada (61) and the United States (66).

Drawing on role strain and gender-mainstreaming theories and applying large-scale survey experiments, the authors examine public opinion on non-quota mechanisms to bolster women’s political participation.

The authors find public support for policies aimed at lessening work–family role strain is higher for a woman politician; these include a pay raise, childcare subsidies and housework allowances. This support is amplified among women who are presented with a woman politician in their experiment, providing evidence of a gender-affinity effect.

The study’s findings contribute to scholarship on gender equality and point to gender-mainstreaming mechanisms to help mitigate the gender gap in politics.

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