Why some women vote left

Bettina Ardnt writes:

Analysis by the Australian Election Study (AES) of 2019 election results (pdf) confirmed an ever-widening gender gap, starting back in the 1990s, marked by dropping female support for the country’s centre-right Liberal Party.

By 2019, 45 percent of men and 35 percent of women voted Liberal, while the split for the Greens was nine percent men to 15 percent women.

The AES asked voters to rate themselves on a scale from left to right, where 0 is left and 10 is right. In 2019 the average position for men was 5.2, whereas for women, it was 4.8, a significant shift from the 1990s when there were minimum gender differences.

One of the key factors I identified back in 2017 for why the shift was occurring was leftist university education. “The hearts and minds being captured in our universities belong mainly to young women,” I wrote, pointing to fascinating research from the AES showing women emerge from university education notably more left-leaning than women without degrees. In contrast, male graduates were not very different from less-educated men in their political views.

I found this interesting as it is well known that women are more likely to vote centre-left than men, but I hadn’t considered whether the impact of education on this. I was interested enough to look up the data from the 2017 Election Survey in New Zealand, and it backs up this argument.

Men tended to vote National over Labour. The data shows:

  • All men National +12%
  • Men uni degree National +5%

For women:

  • All women National +3%
  • Women uni degree Labour +8%
  • Women school qualification National +15%

So in 2017 a very large gap between how women with a university degree voted and those with only a school qualification.

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