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A Gender Gap in Party Congruence and Responsiveness?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2019

Benjamin Ferland*
University of Ottawa


Congruence and responsiveness between the policy preferences of citizens and elites are considered key characteristics of democracy. Although these relationships between citizens and elites have been thoroughly examined, little attention has been devoted to differences in the representation of women and men in studies of congruence and responsiveness. Herein, I evaluate the presence of a gender gap both in terms of party congruence and party responsiveness with respect to the relationship between female and male supporters and the party they voted for. In addition, I examine whether the presence of elected women in parties decreases the gender gap in party congruence and responsiveness. My analyses of the data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and several national elections studies indicate that parties are generally as close and as responsive to the preferences of male supporters as to those of female supporters on the left–right ideological scale. However, the presence of elected women in parties favors women's representation and may thus reduce inequality in gender representation.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2019

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Four years ago, I completed a PhD at McGill University under the supervision of Elisabeth Gidengil. To thank her for her invaluable support and dedication during this project, I made the promise at that time to work on an aspect of the gender gap in politics -- a question at the heart of her academic commitment. I am now proud to fulfill this promise with this publication. Thank you, Elisabeth. I also thank Matt Golder and the journal reviewers for their helpful comments.


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