In spite of decades of women’s political battles, there is a persistent underrepresentation of women in legislative bodies, with only 23.8% in 2018. In this chapter, we discuss theories and empirical studies that have explored what kind of obstacles female politicians are more likely to meet and how they cope with them, when they face more hurdles, and why we need more women elected to political office. Furthermore, we report the results of several studies, which have involved 233 Italian national politicians (46% females), 425 local politicians (56% females), 626 political activists (44% females), and 3249 ordinary citizens (49% females). Results of these studies show that female politicians face mainly external obstacles as the gatekeeping theory maintains. Women find obstacles all along their political career supporting labyrinth hypotheses. Females at all levels of political involvement scored higher in self-transcendence values that emphasize concern for the welfare of others, partially confirming the politics of presence theory. Female politicians were also more open to change and less conservation oriented than their male colleagues. Our findings in general support ethical struggles for a more balanced gender representation.
Part of the book: Elections
In the last 30 years, there was a rise in the political gender gap. The Center for the American Woman and Politics data shows that a larger proportion of women than men vote for the Democratic Party. Women tend to differ from men in several political issues endorsing more welfare policies and progressive policy changes and are less racist than men. Social dominance orientation (SDO) has been theorized to account for political gender differences. Men have higher average levels of SDO than women, everything else being equal. To test the gender invariance hypothesis, we believe it’s important to take into consideration people who not only identify with groups that hold specific hierarchy-enhancing or hierarchy-attenuating ideologies but who participate in them promoting their values and ideas. In this chapter, we describe the findings of research on gender differences in SDO of activists in political parties that range from extreme left-wing to extreme right-wing.
Part of the book: Psycho-Social Aspects of Human Sexuality and Ethics