The Gender Gap in Comparative Perspective: Gender Differences in Abstract Ideology and Concrete Issues in Western Europe

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Although the ‘gender gap’ in Western democratic publics has received an increasing amount of scholarly attention, one interesting anomaly has not been addressed. At the level of many specific issues, women appear to be more liberal than men. However, at the level of general ideological orientations, women are either more conservative, or there are no significant gender differences. We explore this disjuncture between levels of cognitive abstraction through the 1984 Eurobarometer data and conclude that the left-right continuum appears to have a different meaning for men and for women. Women seem much more likely to regard the left-right space as referring to ‘preservationist’ values of religion and cultural homogeneity, and men conceptualize the left-right space in economic and ‘New Polities’ terms.


American Politics | Political Science