Gender and Political Interest

Author: 
Hilde Coffe
Institutional affiliation: 
Victoria University of Wellington
E-mail: 
hilde.coffe@vuw.ac.nz
Paper abstract: 
It is a commonplace that women are less likely to be interested in politics than men. This article challenges that common wisdom by arguing that women are not less interested in politics but rather are interested in different issues. We 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 and in politics in general. Our Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analyses based on data collected in 2011 (British Participation Survey) among a representative sample of British citizens reveal that women are less likely to be interested in politics and national and international issues than men. However, no substantial gender difference is found regarding local issues. Once political efficacy is controlled for, women are even more likely to be interested in local issues compared to men. These results highlight the need to move toward a view of women and men being interested in different issues, rather than women being less politically interested.