RIETI Report July 29, 2022

Gender Stereotypes of Politicians

Dear Readers,
Welcome to RIETI Report.
This bi-weekly newsletter will keep you updated with the recent columns, event information and research results by RIETI fellows and other leading economists in Japan and around the world.

In this edition we present topics related to gender gaps in politics. The gap in Japan is one of the largest of all advanced countries. Faculty Fellow Yoshikuni Ono suspected that gender stereotypes held by voters are putting women candidates at a disadvantage in political elections, as is the case in many countries. Ono and his colleagues have undertaken research to determine whether this is true and what the particular details may be of any prejudices held by the population.

We hope you will enjoy it. If you have any feedback, we would love to hear from you (news-info@rieti.go.jp).
Editors of RIETI Report (Facebook: @en.RIETI / Twitter: @RIETIenglish / URL: https://www.rieti.go.jp/en/)

This month's featured article

Gender Stereotypes of Politicians

ONO YoshikuniFaculty Fellow

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.

Gender Stereotypes

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:

Related papers

“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)

Our latest discussion papers

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ISOGAWA Daiya (Osaka Metropolitan University) / OHASHI Hiroshi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / ANAI Tokunari (Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings)

“A Long-run Transition of Japan's Inter-regional Value Chains”
OKUBO Toshihiro (Keio University) / SASAHARA Akira (Keio University)

“Optimal Tariffs on a Monopoly Platform in Two-sided Markets”
KAO Kuo-Feng (Tamkang University) / MUKUNOKI Hiroshi (Gakushuin University)

“Social Learning and Behavioral Change When Faced with the COVID-19 Pandemic: A big data analysis”
OTA Rui (Yokohama City University) / ITO Arata (Senior Fellow, RIETI) / SATO Masahiro (Tohoku University) / YANO Makoto (Chairman, RIETI)

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