Male and Female Differences in Elite Political Participation: An Examination of the Effects of Socioeconomic and Familial Variables

Published date01 March 1981
Date01 March 1981
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/106591298103400104
Subject MatterArticles
MALE
AND
FEMALE
DIFFERENCES
IN
ELITE
POLITICAL
PARTICIPATION:
AN
EXAMINATION
OF
THE
EFFECTS
OF
SOCIOECONOMIC
AND
FAMILIAL
VARIABLES
LYNDA
WATTS
POWELL,
SUNY,
Albany
with
CLIFFORD
W.
BROWN,
Union
College
and
ROMAN
B.
HEDGES,
SUNY,
Albany
NE
OF
THE
MOST
consistent
cross-national
research
findings
is
the
0
underrepresentation
of
women
in
political
elites.
Yet,
little
schol-
~-~
arship
based
on
survey
research
exists
analyzing
this
phenomenon.
This
is
due
both
to
the
scarcity
of
women
in
political
elites,
and
to
the
difficulties
of
elite
research
generally.
American
scholars
interested
in
this
issue
have
primarily
studied
political
party
elites,
especially
delegates
to
the
national
conventions
of
the
two
major
parties.
These
delegations
have
con-
tained
sufficient
numbers
of
women
to
analyze,
and
their
members
are
rela-
tively
easy
to
locate
for
survey
purposes.
Our
analysis
utilizes
a
different
data
base.
The
financial
disclosure
laws
that
went
into
effect
in
1972
created
the
opportunity
for
a
systematic
study
of
contributors
of
more
than
$100
to
presidential
candidates.
We
have
com-
pleted
a
national
survey
of
these
contributors;
our
findings
are
based
upon
1696
respondents
of
whom
17.5
percent,
or
296,
are
women.’
Sufficient
absolute
numbers
of
women
as
well
as
men
have
thus
been
obtained
for
statistical
analysis,
despite
the
relative
underrepresentation
of
women.
These
campaign
contributors
are
a
political
elite;
they
are
not
simply
wealthy
(27
percent
declare
a
family
income
of
at
least
$100,000),
but
politi-
cally
very
interested,
knowledgeable,
and
active.
For
example,
61
percent
of
the
men
and
66
percent
of
the
women
have
taken
part
in
forming
a
new
group
or
organization
to
try
to
solve
some
community
problem;
92
percent
of
both
the
men
and
the
women
have
done
something
to
try
to
influence
an
act
of
Congress,
such
as
talking
to
a
congressman.
Further,
65
percent
of
the
men
and
53
percent
of
the
women
have
been
asked
by
someone
for
their
help
in
dealing
with
the
national
government.3
3
This
paper
will
examine
the
impacts
of
socioeconomic
and
familial
vari-
ables
upon
participating
in
politics
by
making
presidential
campaign
con-
NOTE:
We
would
like
to
thank
all
of
our
respondents
for
their
assistance;
Peter
H.
Lemieux,
Warren
E.
Miller,
G.
Bingham
Powell,
Jr.,
and Kenneth
Prewitt
for
criticisms
of
an
earlier
draft;
and
L.
Gray
Cowan,
the
Tickner
Fund
and
the
Graduate
School
of
Public
Affairs,
SUNY-Albany
for
supporting
this
research.
1
M.
Kent Jennings
and
Norman
Thomas,
"Men
and
Women
in
Party
Elites:
Social
Roles
and
Political
Resources,"
Midwest
Journal
of
Political
Science
12
(November
1968):
469-92;
Ed-
mond
Costantini
and
Kenneth
H.
Craik,
"Women
as
Politicians:
The
Social
Background,
Personality
and
Political
Careers
of
Female
Party
Leaders,"
Journal
of
Social
Issues
28
(1972):
217-35;
Jeane
Kirkpatrick,
The
New
Presidential
Elite:
Men
and
Women
in
National
Politics
(New
York:
The
Russell
Sage
Foundation
and
the
Twentieth
Century
Fund,
1976).
2 For
a
more
complete
description
of
our
survey
procedure,
see
Clifford
W.
Brown, Jr.,
Roman
B.
Hedges
and
Lynda
W.
Powell,
"Modes
of
Political
Participation:
Contributors
to
the
1972
Presidential
Candidates,"
American Journal
of Political
Science
24
(May
1980).
The
response
rate
was
48.3%
of
those
who
received
a
questionnaire.
There
were
no
substantial
variations
in
the
response
rate
attributable
to
the
effects
of
candidate,
region
or
size
of
contribution.
Familial
variables
were
asked
of only
half the
respondents
(chosen
randomly):
tables
based
on
these
will
contain
approximately
half
the
numbers
of
individuals
as
other
tables.
3 For
more
descriptive
information
see,
ibid;
Clifford
W.
Brown,
Jr.,
Roman
B.
Hedges
and
Lynda
W.
Powell,
"Belief
Structure
in
a
Political
Elite:
Contributors
to
the
1972
Presiden-
tial
Candidates,"
Polity
13
(Fall
1980):
134-46.

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