Gender gap enters politics


Ben Holmes/Iowa State Daily

The differences in voting among genders.

Kyndal Reimer

Since the 1970s, when reproductive rights were rising as a central focus, the gender gap in politics has been steadily swelling.

A gender gap is defined as the difference between men and women in reference to political and voting preferences and patterns.

Women are more likely than men to identify as Democrats, according to, and this statistic rings true among all age groups.

“Coming from a conservative background, I would say that women today appeal to the Democratic Party partially because they have a female candidate running for president who has a political past,” said Ross Heitmeier, junior in agricultural studies. “Also, women are in favor of equality, poor or wealthy, black or white, through all social classes, and that point of view rings true for Democrats.”

Alongside identifying as Democrats, most women tend to favor a more activist role, are more supportive of health care and basic social services programs, support gun restriction laws, support same-sex marriage and favor legal abortions. In general, women are also more optimistic than men about the direction the country is going.

“I think women voting more democratically has to do with the fact that we have concerns that aren’t being talked about,” said Shelby Dill, senior in women’s studies and member of the Women’s Studies Curriculum Committee. “We will have to deal with these issues in our daily lives, so we’re more conscious about them. Even Democrats sometimes neglect these issues, but they address them more than any other party does.”

“In 1952, 59 percent of men and 58 percent of women identified with the Democratic Party … but democratic identification among men has consistently declined since 1964 and has not been above 50 percent since 1980,” According to a study done by Karen Kaufmann, associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, and John R. Petrocik, a professor of political science at the University of Missouri

A similar pattern can be identified among ISU students.

When 40 random students were polled on whether they identified as Democratic, Republican, or other, 20 said they were democratic, 12 republican and eight other. While Democratic appeared to be the majority, 12 of the Democrats were female, while only eight were male. With republicans, seven were male and five were female. These results mirror the nation as a whole.

“I see this Democratic trend persisting, if not increasing,” Dill said. “The younger the generations get, the more liberal-minded they are.”