subscribe: Posts | Comments

Women less politically aware than men

1 comment

women and political awarenessNew research has found that women know less about politics than men, even in wealthy countries.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, revealed that the gap in political awareness is actually the widest in affluent countries and countries that promote gender equality.

The UK has the second largest gender divide in political knowledge out of the ten countries examined in the study, which includes Australia, Japan and the USA.

Professor James Curran, director of the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre at the University of London, asked 10,000 people questions about politics and political news.

British men correctly answered an average of 5.8 questions out of eight but British females correctly answered just 3.9 questions.

Norway had the largest differences in scores, while Columbia, Greece and South Korea had the smallest differences at less than 20 per cent.

Professor Curran said: “Our finding that the gap between men and women’s knowledge of politics is greater in Norway – a country ranked globally as one of the very highest in terms of gender equality – than in South Korea – a country with a much lower equality rating – is particularly striking.”

In order to investigate these surprising results, Professor Curran and his colleagues examined the content and supply of news in the ten nations.

They found that in all of these countries primetime television news predominately featured male sources, with women only cited and interviewed in less than a third of news stories.

When female sources were used, it was usually for topics concerning culture, family and lifestyle.

Professor Kaori Hayashi, Professor Curran’s co-researcher, believes that women’s under-representation in the news may be one reason why men know more about politics.

“Such under-representation and topical bias of women in news media may curb women’s motivation to acquire political knowledge actively and discourage them from political participation, and even prevent women from engaging as citizens in a democratic society,” he suggested.

Professor Curran agreed: “It’s enormously off-putting for women to be looking at the news as always being about men.”

“Politics is projected as a man’s world and that encourages a sense of disconnection,” he added.

The professor thinks that this projection could easily be changed.

“If there was more about health and education and less about the Westminster bubble, it would be more interesting to women,” he argued.

Professor Curran’s research team also discovered that listening to, reading and watching the news are largely male activities.

Men in Canada, Norway and the UK claimed that they are much more exposed to the news, both via newspapers and television, than women.

Professor Hayashi said: “It seems that gaps in exposure to media are related to the gaps of knowledge between men and women.

“The reasons why women watch less TV, read fewer newspapers and listen to less radio programmes in many countries than men could include the discouragingly male bias of much media content, less leisure time because of the greater unpaid work undertaken by women in the home and persistent social norms and expectations inherited from the past.”

The research team hopes that their findings will help to eradicate gender inequality within politics.

Dr Sharon Coen, who co-wrote the study, said: “These results highlight that there is still a lot of work to do in order to allow women to take an active role in the political life of their countries of origin – and we are determined to help.”

  1. Vickiwharton says:

    Another contributing factor is that politically aware women are called feminazis and are threatened with rape if they dont shut the fuck up and leave politics to the men. Violent discrimination is not a huge incentive or social empowerer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *