Women vote their own minds

Table of contents

Tables and Figures

  1. Does Gender Matter in Voting?
  2. Identifying Voter Patterns: Do Women and Men Vote Differently?
  3. Women, Men and Party Choice
  4. What Women (and Men) Want: Policy Preferences, Values, and Issue Voting
  5. Desperately Seeking the Supervoter: Why Do People Vote the Way They Do?
  6. What Women Get: ‘Wooing Women’

A. Coding and Survey Question Wording
B.  Analyses of U.S. Women’s and Men’s Voting Preferences: Regression Results
C. Analyses of British Women’s and Men’s Voting Preferences: Regression Results
D. Analyses of Japanese Women’s and Men’s Voting Preferences: Regression Results


What Women Want analyzes decades of voting preferences, values, and policy preferences to debunk some of the media and academic myths about gender gaps in voting and policy preferences. Findings show that no single theory explains when differences in women’s and men’s voting preferences emerge, when they do not, or when changes—or the lack thereof—occur over time. Steel extends existing theories to create a broader framework for thinking about gender and voting behavior to provide more analytical purchase in understanding gender and its varying effects on individual voters’ preferences. She incorporates the long-term effects of party identification and class politics on political decision-making, particularly in how they influence preferences on social provision and on expectations of the state. She also points to the importance of symbolic politics

Gill Steel is Professor of Political Science in the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Doshisha University

“With meticulous data analysis, Gill Steel’s What Women Want elucidates the complexity of gender politics operating not only in election campaigns but also in voting analysis. This rigorous study confirms the importance of learning from the enthralling fruits that the fine art of quantitative analysis can offer.”
—Hiroko Takeda, Nagoya University

- Hiroko Takeda

“This meticulously researched, incisive book makes a powerful case for the importance of gender in understanding and explaining voting behavior, even as it eludes any easy simplifications of women’s (and men’s) interests, values, and goals. Gill Steel offers a complex but clearly-argued account that will set a new standard for comparative analysis in this arena.”
—David Leheny, Waseda University

- David Leheny

“Gill Steel combines careful quantitative analysis of long-term, high-quality surveys of voting behavior in three advanced democracies with detailed ethnographic reporting and focus group discussions to demolish the notion that there is an inherent ‘gender gap’ between the policy preferences and partisan allegiances of men and women.”
—Gregory W. Noble, University of Tokyo

- Gregory W. Noble

“Steel demystifies the old and modern versions of gender gaps in voting brilliantly. Women are neither more conservative nor more progressive than men and thus do not constitute a bloc of swing votes, as was often assumed. Yet, the symbolic politics of gender casts a shadow on campaign strategy and media coverage. This book’s clear writing backed by ample evidence and rich data deepens our understanding as to how gender really matters in elections.”
—Mari Miura, Sophia University

- Mari Miura

“This book is chock-full of great data and represents a timely contribution to political science. Steel’s voice is hip, and especially well-suited for the newcomer to politics seeking a solid introduction to the intersection of gender and electoral politics across three distinct democracies. Experts alike will benefit from Steel’s comparative analysis.”
—Dyron Dabney, Earlham College

- Dyron Dabney

“This well-researched, well-written book draws on an impressive variety of evidence to make an important contribution to our understanding of the ‘gender gap’ in voting. This book has much to teach readers about the relationship between gender and forces like class, symbolic politics, the media, and political campaigns.”
—Michael Strausz, Texas Christian University

- Michael Strausz

"Steel's findings unsettle easy assumptions about women's voting behavior and remind readers of the complexities of voter analysis."

- J. G. Everett, University of Colorado at Denver