Women Stay Local, Men Go National and Global? Gender Differences in Political Interest
Hilde Coffe; July 2013
This study challenges the idea that women are less interested in politics than men by arguing that women are not less interested in politics but, rather, are interested in different issues. I decompose the concept of general political interest into interest in local, national and international issues and investigate gender differences in interest in these different issues, as well as in politics in general. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analyses, based on data collected in 2011 (British Participation Survey) on a representative sample of British citizens (N = 1,353), reveal no substantial gender difference in interest in local issues. Once political efficacy is controlled for, however, women are more likely than men to be interested in local issues. Furthermore, women are less likely to be interested in national and international issues, as well as politics in general, than men. Further analyses demonstrate that part of the gap in general political interest may be explained by the fact that interest in politics is primarily understood as interest in national politics, an issue in which men are more likely to be interested than women. In summary, the results highlight the need to clarify the concept of ‘politics’ and to move towards the notion that women and men are interested in different issues, rather than the notion that women are less politically interested than men.