Getting Women the Vote

I’m presenting some work in progress in the ANU RSSS Political Science seminar next week. Details below.

Bias at the Ballot Box? Testing whether candidates’ gender affects their vote share
Wednesday 29 August, 4pm
Seminar Room D, Coombs Building, Fellows Road
This paper, written with Amy King, examines the relationship between a candidate’s gender and their electoral success, using data from all Federal elections to the Australian House of Representatives between 1901 and 2004. We find that, on average, the vote share of female candidates is smaller than that of male candidates. A gender effect has existed for most elections since the time of Federation and has tended to track the movement of the gender earnings gap. We also test whether this apparent bias is due to bias in the preselection process, and look at whether the ALP’s recent changes in preselection rules have had an impact on how female Labor candidates fared at the ballot box.

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6 Responses to Getting Women the Vote

  1. derrida derider says:

    Commenting on a paper I haven’t read (with consequent risk of making a fool of myself yet again), does “bias in the preselection process” include the way preselection in seats that are dead safe for the other side tends to throw up “fringe” candidates? It’s partly through lack of people willing to stand, partly through the branches in such places attracting fringe members, partly through head office disinterest in such seats.

    The point is that for much of our history any woman candidate would have been considered ipso facto “fringe” and would have had a much better chance of being preselected in these circumstances.

    BTW, I’ve known some deeply worrying candidates who stood in safe seats (I hasten to add none of these were women).

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    The paper’s still in the process of being written, but they’re certainly issues we’re trying to address!

  3. conrad says:

    “I’ve known some deeply worrying candidates who stood in safe seats (I hasten to add none of these were women). ”

    Do you mean Tony Abott, Kevin Andrews, etc., or am I on the wrong track here?

  4. There was a Whitlam generation of mature-age women students who joined the ALP after 1975, Sue Deane, Margaret Blaxell etc., and were frequent candidates in safe Liberal seats. Had they made it into parliament they would have been a big improvement on most Labor MPs of the time.

  5. derrida derider says:

    conrad, I meant candidates who had no chance of winning. I remember one Liberal candidate in Gough Whitlam’s electorate (I lived in it at the time) who publicly asserted that water fluoridation was a communist plot to undermine the West and who turned out to have had a very dubious WWII history (he was Croatian). You can imagine the assertions he made about Gough.

    Mind you, you’re right that some successful candidates are also deeply worrying …

  6. Andrew Leigh says:

    DD, is this the moment to point out that Queenslanders still don’t fluoridate their water?

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