American Party Women: A Look at the Gender Gap within Parties

Tiffany D. Barnes, Erin C. Cassese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research on the gender gap in American politics has focused on average differences between male and female voters. This has led to an underdeveloped understanding of sources of heterogeneity among women and, in particular, a poor understanding of the political preferences of Republican women. We argue that although theories of ideological sorting suggest gender gaps should exist primarily between political parties, gender socialization theories contend that critical differences lie at the intersection of gender and party such that gender differences likely persist within political parties. Using survey data from the 2012 American National Election Study, we evaluate how party and gender intersect to shape policy attitudes. We find that gender differences in policy attitudes are more pronounced in the Republican Party than in the Democratic Party, with Republican women reporting significantly more moderate views than their male counterparts. Mediation analysis reveals that the gender gaps within the Republican Party are largely attributable to gender differences in beliefs about the appropriate scope of government and attitudes toward gender-based inequality. These results afford new insight into the joint influence of gender and partisanship on policy preferences and raise important questions about the quality of representation Republican women receive from their own party.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Volume70
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © 2016 University of Utah.

Keywords

  • gender gap
  • partisan sorting
  • partisanship
  • policy attitudes
  • public opinion
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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