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Women as Political Animals? A Test of Some Explanations for Male-Female Political Participation Differences

Susan Welch
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 21, No. 4 (Nov., 1977), pp. 711-730
DOI: 10.2307/2110733
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110733
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Women as Political Animals? A Test of Some Explanations for Male-Female Political Participation Differences
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Abstract

While many suggestions have been offered to explain why American women tend to participate in political activities slightly less than men, seldom have these explanations been subjected to a rigorous examination. Here, three plausible explanations drawn from prior research are discussed: first, the political socialization process that discourages women from playing an active political role; second, the family responsibilities that keep some women at home and out of the work force (the "situational" explanation), and third, the overrepresentation of women in demographic groups that have low participation levels (the "structural" explanation). The latter two explanations are tested directly using data from the SRC election studies of 1952, 1964, and 1972. Once situational and structural variables are controlled, there are no systematic differences in levels of male-female participation. In light of these findings, the validity of the political socialization explanation is discussed.

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