Gender Gap in Politics
The gender gap in politics in Japan is one of the largest of all advanced countries. The proportion of seats held by women in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet (Japan’s national parliament), is 9.7%, far below the average of 25.9% among the 193 countries around the world. Why are women so underrepresented in the Diet? One possible reason for the gender gap in political representation may be that gender stereotypes held by voters are putting women candidates at a disadvantage in elections.
Social psychology research shows that gender stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discriminatory behavior. So, what stereotypes do Japanese voters have with respect to men and women politicians?
A Survey with Japanese Voters
In order to identify the stereotypes held by Japanese voters, we conducted an online survey with around 3,000 voters in March 2019. In the survey, the same set of questions was asked in the same format as that used in a survey previously conducted in the United States so that the tendencies among Japanese and American voters could be compared. This article provides a brief summary of the gender stereotypes observed among Japanese voters with respect to policy areas and personal traits. For information on the specifics of the survey, please refer to the relevant RIETI discussion paper.
Gender Stereotypes Regarding Policy Areas
The survey asked the respondents whether men or women politicians are generally better at handling each of 11 policy areas, requesting them to choose one of three response options: “men,” “women,” and “no gender difference.” Figure 1 shows a summary of the results, which indicate that Japanese voters have stereotypes very similar to those held by American voters. Specifically, the percentage of Japanese respondents who considered men politicians to be better at handling policy areas such as crime/public order, economics/employment, national security, immigration, and fiscal deficit was higher than the percentage of those who considered women politicians to be better at handling them. On the other hand, the percentage of Japanese respondents who considered women politicians to be better at handling such policy areas as education, healthcare, childcare/child welfare, the shrinking population of children, and pension/social welfare was higher than the percentage of those who considered men to be better at handling them.
To read the full text:
“Gender Stereotypes among Japanese Voters”
ENDO Yuya (Tohoku University) / ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
“Gender Differences in Campaigning under Alternative Voting Systems: Evidence from a Quantitative Text Analysis of Election Manifestos in Japan”
ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / MIWA Hirofumi (Gakushuin University)
“Ignorance is Bliss? Age, Misinformation, and Support for Women's Representation”
Barry C. BURDEN (University of Wisconsin-Madison) / ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
“Do Voters Prefer Gender Stereotypic Candidates? Evidence from a conjoint survey experiment in Japan”
ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / YAMADA Masahiro (Kwansei Gakuin University)
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