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What do Women Really Know? A Gendered Analysis of Varieties of Political Knowledge

  • Dietlind Stolle (a1) and Elisabeth Gidengil (a2)

While studies typically find that women know less about politics than do men, feminist scholars have argued that these findings reflect gender-biased measures that underestimate women's political knowledge. This article evaluates the feminist critique by taking a more expansive view of what constitutes political knowledge. Using data from a large Canadian urban sample, we show that gender gaps close or even reverse when people are queried about more practical aspects of political knowledge, such as government benefits and services. Our results also demonstrate that this type of knowledge is more equally distributed than its conventional counterpart, though the women who are the most likely to need government services and benefits are often the least likely to know about them. Finally, we show that knowledge of government services and benefits has a significant effect on women's intended vote choice. This article thus shows that more practical types of political knowledge might serve as meaningful additions to existing definitions and measures of political knowledge.

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Perspectives on Politics
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