The Gender Gap in Foreign Policy Attitudes

Authored by: Lise Togeby

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation
Country: Denmark
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 1994
Citation: Togeby, Lise. "The Gender Gap in Foreign Policy Attitudes." Journal of Peace Research 31, no. 4 (1994): 375-92.

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Conventional wisdom holds that women are more peace-loving or more pacific than men. Most of our knowledge about the gender gap in foreign policy attitudes originates from the United States, but it cannot be taken for granted that these results can be generalized to other countries. This article examines gender differences in foreign policy attitudes in Denmark; it discusses the systemic factors behind such gender differences as well as the systemic factors that cause foreign policy attitudes to influence elections. By the 1980s a clear gender gap in foreign policy attitudes had developed in Denmark. Several explanations for this gender gap are examined in the article: the theory about women’s greater distance to foreign policy, the theory about specific women’s values, and the theory about the political and feminist radicalization of women. The article concludes that Denmark’s gender gap in foreign policy attitudes in Denmark in the late 1980s was due primarily to a general left-wing mobilization of women. Paradoxically, however, this development also seems linked to a revitalization of traditional women’s values. The discussion of the systemic causes of the gender gap and of its election impact centers around three factors: the salience of foreign policy, the political mobilization of women, and the available political alternatives in a given election.