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Gendered Voting at the 2010 Federal Election


Tranter, B, Gendered Voting at the 2010 Federal Election, Australian Journal of Political Science, 46, (4) pp. 707-717. ISSN 1036-1146 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Australian Political Studies Association

DOI: doi:10.1080/10361146.2011.623671


While considerable variations in gendered voting patterns exist across nations, in the US, at least since the 1980s, women have tended to favour parties of the left while men support parties of the right (Edlund and Pande 2002; Giger 2009). Across European countries alternatively, there is a degree of inconsistency in gendered voting patterns. For example, in some countries women have shifted toward parties of the left while elsewhere ‘women are still found to vote more conservatively’ (Giger 2009, 475). The latter pattern resembles the Australian case, where women have tended to favour conservative parties at federal elections, traditionally voting for the Liberal Party over the Australian Labor Party (ALP) (Renfrow 1994). In the 2010 Australian federal election however, this pattern was overturned; women voters clearly favoured the ALP for the first time since Australian election survey data have been collected.

Clear differences in voting behaviour along gender lines had not been seen at Australian federal elections for the last three decades (Leigh 2005; Pietsch, Graetz and McAllister 2010; Studlar, McAllister and Hayes 1998). In Australia the pattern has resembled either the ‘traditional’ model of female support for conservative parties or a ‘gender dealignment’ pattern where only minimal gender differences in voting are apparent (see Inglehart and Norris 2000). Yet the last election was distinctive. For the first time in Australia since 1916, a sitting prime minister (Kevin Rudd) was deposed before serving a single term of office and replaced by his deputy Julia Gillard, who went on to become Australia's first female prime minister. The reasons for this momentous leadership change have been described in detail elsewhere (see, for example, Williams 2011). This note concentrates on the issue of gender as it relates to federal voting and in particular, the relationship between gender-differentiated voting patterns and voter perceptions of major party leaders.

Although Australian Election Study (AES) data from 1987–2007 indicate only weak gendered voting patterns over the 20 years prior to the 2010 election, in 2010 women were far more likely than men to vote for the Labor Party. While some explain this gender differential in terms of ‘convergence’ (Renfrow 1994), sex-based segregation of the workforce (Leithner 1997), or unionisation (Haswell 2000), this paper advances an alternative explanation. The extent of gender-differentiated voting in 2010 is reduced considerably once voter evaluations of the Labor leader are controlled; indicating that the gendered voting pattern reported in the 2010 Australian federal election may be at least partly related to the way voters evaluated the new prime minister, Julia Gillard.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Political systems
UTAS Author:Tranter, B (Professor Bruce Tranter)
ID Code:73462
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2011-10-11
Last Modified:2017-11-15
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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