Work in Progress
Party Behavior and the Gender Voting Gap
How does party behavior affect the gender voting gap? A well-established argument from the literature on gender and political behavior states that working women tend to vote for left-wing parties more than men because they are stronger supporters of the welfare state. However, no study has assessed whether parties' welfare positions affect the gender voting gap. Leveraging three decades of public opinion data from 16 Western democracies I show, for the first time, evidence in support of that claim: increases in women's labor force participation lead to higher female/male voter ratios for the left only when those parties strongly support gender-egalitarian policies in the labor market. These findings confirm but add nuance to the previous understanding of the gap: by focusing on demand factors (public opinion), previous research overlooked the supply side (party behavior). Therefore, my evidence elevates the importance of party behavior in explanations of gender differences in voting.
Tracing the Origins of the Gender Gap in Policy Preferences: The Case of the Irish Marriage Bar
How did women’s access to formal employment affect the gender gap in policy preferences? Studies of the political economy of gender inequality argue that women became more supportive of the welfare state than men as they entered the workforce. However, we still lack causal evidence on the effect of outside-marriage options, such as simply being able to work, on the gender gap in support of welfare. This paper provides that evidence by studying the consequences of the end of the Marriage Bar in 1973, a widespread practice in twentieth-century Ireland requiring women to quit their jobs upon marriage. A Difference-in-Differences analysis of public opinion data shows that, once the Bar was lifted, married women became less satisfied with their welfare benefits and time budget compared to married men, a signal of a growing divergence between their policy preferences and men's. These results align with explanations of gender gaps in attitudes based on household dynamics and help us better understand the causes of past and present differences between men and women’s policy preferences.
Why do Niche Parties Engage in Strategic Descriptive Representation? Evidence from France
Comparative research has recently shown that radical right parties elect more women to Parliament when electorally struggling. While a significant contribution, the focus of previous studies on national-level outcomes makes it difficult to identify the mechanism at play. I argue that parties engage in strategic descriptive representation to alter voters’ perceptions of their ideology and enlarge their electorates. The strategic use of candidates' gender should vary according to the ideology of parties and districts: struggling radical-right parties would include female candidates in left-wing districts to be perceived as more moderate; whereas the same incentives would push radical-left parties to nominate men in right-wing districts. I test these claims with a study of the French 2022 legislative elections. I use census data to proxy districts' ideology, which I then combine with data on district legislative candidates. Findings confirm my claims, suggesting that both party and district ideology are important in explaining the numerical presence of women and men in candidate polls. Niche parties are strategic when it comes to the places where they nominate men and women.