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Gender Gap In Political Arena Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2613 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The gender gap is a term widely used to describe various occurrences in gender dominance, including low image of women in the political position and the fact that men and women participation differ in political parties. The continuous gender gap in vote choice has stimulated study into the causes of gender differences in political behavior and biased attachments (Gilens 1988; Bolee 1985; Wirls 1986 cited in Elizabeth1991). The recognition of an electoral gender gap has had an impact on the campaign strategy in the last decade. Today campaign strategists act in the belief that men and women respond to different types of posts and messages (Pippa, 1997)

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Fundamentally, men and women have unequal interest in getting elected office. The political environment seems to have changed thought in the last years, nonetheless the gender gap in politics still continues as glaring as it has been in the past (Jennifer L. Lawless, 2002). In spite of contemporary changes in political affairs and the development of political stability, there are still considerable differences concerning political knowledge and interest, for which it has not provided any compelling explanation yet (Lovenduski, 1986, Hayes and Bean 1993, Van deth 2000, Vasallo, 2006, Verba et al. 1997). However, significant differences require further investigation. This paper aims to examine the causes of gender gap in the political arena, in comparisons of two scholarly articles: “The persistence of gender differences in political interest”(referred to as Article A in this essay) and “A social role theory perspective on gender gaps in Political Attitudes” (will be referred to as Article B in this essay) and their relevance to Public affairs, lobbying, ethical and political challenges. Marxist feminism theory, Liberal theory and patriarchy will be used in this essay.


This paragraph discusses the similarities between the two Articles. The two articles talks about the causes of gender gap in politics. They both lay emphasis on division of labor, what the society perceives to be the role of men and women. Division of labor is breaking down of work into part, such as domestic work, this is where the social constructivism and media theory comes in. Women are been perceived to be primarily meant for domestic use, it is said that a woman should engage themselves with family responsibilities and thus reduces their interest in the political arena. The two articles agree on the imbalanced distribution of work between men and women of the total workload generates greater availability of free time for men compared with women (dura, 1991, 2006). There is a limited time available for a woman due to in-house work that adversely hinders their participation and potential interest in politics (Norris and Inglehart, 2006:78).


The following paragraphs discuss the differences between the two articles. ‘The persistence of gender differences in political interest’ (Article A) explores the role of individual resources, situational factors and socialization in explaining the persistence of a gender gap in political interest while the second article ‘A role theory perspective social gender gaps in political attitudes’ (article b) apply the framework of social role theory to explain the gender gap in political attitudes. Although the two articles both have similar view, however the theoretical application is different. While Article B sees the causes Gender gap as diffuse gender roles, Article a sees it to be a situational factor.

The two articles use different components in explaining their view of gender inequalities in political arena. Article B focuses on the following three modes by which diffuse gender roles might lead to political attitudes which are; the gender- stereotypic explanations: an important part within a social role context is that gender-based expectations influence the behavior of men and women (Deaux & Mayor, 1987) ; internalized traits: it is critical to note that gender role use their influence not only on what others believes in but also through the internalization of these role in the personality. (Wood &Eagy, 2009). This is again the social constructivism, what they are perceived to be and what they perceived themselves to be and Status and power: this talks about how the differences between male and female reflect differences in time and status. That is, attitudes on policy issues may stem from general thought that go for or against the status quo (Jost & Kay, 2005). However, Articles A uses three different explanations to bring out their views, they are: a) The structural explanation: which debates that woman generally has less socioeconomic to engage in politics unlike men. b) The situational explanation: claims women are responsible for the domestic works and prevent them from participating fully in politics. c) The sex role explanation: maintains that women focus more on private sphere because of their role as mothers and wives than men. Nevertheless, Article A focused more on situational explanation to bring out their view.

Women representations and participation in both formal and informal sectors in the public sphere has been framed, to give the perception that women are weaker sex compare to men, both physically and emotionally. The above explanation shows how each article frames the concept of Gender Gap in political arena.


Feminist theory, Liberal political theory and patriarchy will be used here in relevance to public affairs and public issues management and practice. Another theory that will be useful here is social constructivism, it has has been argued by Scholars in reform feminist theory. Gender reform feminisms (liberal, Marxist, socialist, postcolonial, and Asian), were the theorists and advocates that dominated in the 1970s. They perceive gender gap in the aspect of the gendered social order. Politically, their aim is to attain gender equality, so that women and men are placed and seen as being equal throughout the society, and having the same influence, respect, and economic resources.

Gender reform feminisms argue that the causes of gender gap are structural and not as a result of internalised traits, individual choices, or imbalanced personal relationships. The structural sources as said in Article A above are women’s demotion to low-paid work and a deflation of the work women do, irresistible household tasks, child care and imbalanced access to education, health care, and political power.

Valerie (2002), states that though women are regularly excluded from partaking highly in politics, they have a tendency to vote in greater numbers than men and play an essential role in the non-governmental organization (NGO), you pay less prestigious and more lower than the private sector or high politics. The challenge facing all defenders of gender equality in politics today is the big difference between the shared values ​​that are revealed in national and international policy and practice.

Another issue in the context of women’s political participation refers in particular to the nature of politics in general and liberal democracy. Democracy has increasingly served to men better than women. As a political system from ancient to modern 21st century, put up the public-private dichotomy and omitted women from citizenship. Philips and Rai argues that Women have been kept out of the public sphere of politics as most political scholars and philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, John Lock, Thomas Hobbes and Hegel deliberated that women are only fit for domestic obligations in the private sphere and that there was no place for women in politics because of their expertise in caring roles as mothers and wives (Philips1998, Rai200).

“The ancient and modern democracies failed to recognize women as citizens, therefore they are side lined and concerns in its theory and practice” (Bathala,1998:39). It was only the liberal political viewpoint of the nineteenth century that supported the idea of ​​free and rational individual, which was used by suffragettes to request the right to vote. On the contrary, Rai keeps the theoretical base of liberal theory is integrally gendered in ways which perpetuate patriarchy and ignores gender subordination in politics and society (Rai 2000:2)

Feminist theorists also takes issue with the notion of abstract individual in liberal theory and debated that it is not a gender-neutral category. This is why even though women are entitled to vote but are not able to influence public policy and cannot give the private sphere into the public preview.

The liberal conception of human nature sets the terms liberal political theory. It is the realm of basic moral and political values ​​of liberalism, which has the vital problem of liberal political philosophy and prescribes the method used by liberals to solve these problems.

The fundamental moral values ​​of liberalism are based on the assumption that all individuals have an equal potential for reason. This assumption is based on the moral core of liberalism, belief, and a high intrinsic value of the human person. Because different liberal theoretical construct different reason, his belief in the value of the human person is expressed in different terms. Liberalism believes in the ultimate value of the individual is expressed in politics equalitarianism (Jaggar 1983, 33). It is important to recognize that these theories pursue theoretical objectives: first, to identify the complex historical and social processes that penetrate the specific position of women in society. Second, to theorize the location of women in relation to social differentiation.

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The structural and functional limitations in front of women are designed by social and political relations in a society. The public pattern of political segregation of women comes from a) structures and institutions of political discourse, b) the socio political and social – cultural and functional constraints(as discussed in Article b above) that put limits on individual and collective action of women (Bari 2005). There are various factors that hinder women’s political participation; it ranges from ideological, political, socio-cultural, and economic factor.

Ideological factor here talks about gender resistance feminisms. Gender resistance feminisms has its occurrence in the 1980s, it said that the gender order cannot be the same using gender balance for the reason that men’s dominance overwhelm Gender equality, they maintain, ends up with women been equal with men. While looking into the gender order from the viewpoint of women, they reveal the hidden relationships in organizations, institutions, politics and daily practices that give men control over women. They call it patriarchy (Lorber, 2010).

Patriarchy as a system of male supremacy relation forms of women in politics. Converts male and female into men and women and form the hierarchy of gender relations where men are advantaged (Eisenstein 1984, Galson 2002) Adrienne Rich defines patriarchy as “a familial-social, ideological, political system in which men by force, direct pressure or through ritual, tradition, law and language, customs label, education, and the division of labor, determine what part of the woman will or will not play and female everywhere subsumed under the male “(Rich 1997:57)

The ideology of gender role as an ideological tool used by patriarchy to position women in the private sphere of the home as mothers and wives and men in the public sphere. This is one of the important factors that outline the political contribution of women worldwide. However, this division is not reflected ideological reality. Frequently perverting the boundaries between public and private in the daily lives of women. Nevertheless, national domains can still be perceived in the political arena as an appropriate space for women while the public space is assigned for men. Women have to negotiate their entry and claim public space as the broad possibilities and materials available in a particular culture and society. Though the ideologies of gender role was not still but in a society with fluidity as regards to women are defined as secluded countries that lead to in the gender gap in the political arena (Bari 2005 & Collins, 1990, 2000).

The second factor which is the political Factors emphasizes on the political nature of the society. The nature of politics is a vital issue in the gender gap in the political arena. Vicky Randall defines politics as joint or work relationships within a given power structure. Randall (1987) which is in contrast with the traditional view that defines politics as an activity, a deliberate and mindful involvement in the process by which resources assigned among citizens. This idea of politics that limits the political activity in the public and private sphere of family life is depicted as apolitical. This public-private dichotomy in the traditional definition of politics is used to omit women from public political sphere and even when women enter politics, they are presented as mothers and wives (Bari 2005).

Male domination, political parties and culture of formal political structures is another factor inhibiting women’s political participation. Political parties that are often ruled males will have a male perspective on issues of national importance that Disenchants women because their view is often disregarded and not revealed in the politics. The largest democratic framework and the level of democratization also influence the political participation of women. The profane democracies in Europe and also in some of the developing countries have created relatively more space for the participation of women in policy compare countries where religious orthodoxy has been to form policy and democracy (Gamson 1988; Meuman, fair and Cripler1992: Kern and only in 1995).

Also, socio-cultural factor which poses as a limitation to women participation in politics explains that women find it difficult to participate in politics because of the limited time available to them because of their dual role in the productive and reproductive spheres. With their main starring role as mothers and wives and domestic responsibilities and competence of care work, are left with little time to participate in politics(Barret September 1980: Kuli & Wolpe 1978).

The last factor to be considered here is the economic factor; the economic factor here talks about the financial strength of individuals getting involved in politics. Politics nowadays requires a lot of capital. Money plays a major role in political participation and most women lack the basic financial resources to adequately get involved in politics (Witt et al 1994, 182)

In Conclusion, it can be said that Women participation in politics has really been affected with the above stated factors. This may be due to the acceptance of women in a subordinate role in politics, which lane (1961) has called ‘the properly depending role of gender’ seems more likely that are retained by the situational factor, the demands of the dual role of mother and game employee, along with the knowledge that politics is man Lane(1961).


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