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Why Does Alejandro Know More about Politics than Catalina? Explaining the Latin American Gender Gap in Political Knowledge

Abstract

This article tests contextual and individual-level explanations of the gender gap in political knowledge in Latin American countries. It suggests that this gap is impacted by political and economic settings through two interrelated mechanisms: gender accessibility (that is, the extent of available opportunities for women to influence the political agenda) and gender-bias signaling (that is, the extent to which women play important roles in the public sphere). Analyzing data from the 2008 Americas Barometer survey, this study shows that the gender gap in political knowledge is smaller among highly educated citizens, in rural areas (where both men and women know little about politics) and in bigger cities (where women’s levels of political knowledge are higher). More importantly, the magnitude of the gap varies greatly across countries. Gender differences in income, party system institutionalization and the representation of women in national parliaments are all found to play a particularly important role in explaining the magnitude of the gender gap in political knowledge across Latin America.

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Institute of Public Goods and Policies, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, and the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute (email: marta.fraile@csic.es; Marta.fraile@eui.eu); Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Derby (email: r.gomez@derby.ac.uk). This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy (Reference: CSO2012-32009). We wish to thank the anonymous reviewers, and especially the editor, for their suggestions, which significantly contributed to improving the article. Data replication and online appendices sets are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123414000532.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
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