Monday, March 12, 2007

How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers’ Voting on Women’s Issues

When looking for the study mentioned in the Townhall column that I dealt with in my Lying with Statistics post, I came across another study by the same author, Ebonya Washington, called Female Socialization: How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers’ Voting on Women’s Issues (pdf) from 2005.

I found the paper's own description interesting, not only for the subject covered, but for the other studies it refered to.

This paper considers whether children can influence parental behavior outside of the household, in the way that we believe neighbors and peers continue to exert influence over an individual’s behavior even when the individual is not in the presence of a neighbor or a peer. Psychologists have demonstrated a link between offspring gender and parental beliefs on not only parenting issues (Brody and Steelman, 1985; Downey, Jackson and Powell, 1994) but also on issues of political significance. Warner (1991) examines the impact of daughters on parental attitudes toward women, in Detroit and Toronto. She finds that women with girls in both countries and men with girls in Canada are significantly more likely to hold feminist views. Warner and Steel (1999) find that US fathers are significantly more likely to support pay equity, comparable worth, affirmative action in regards to gender in employment and Title IX policies if they parent only daughters.

As the paper continues on to make clear, the influence on men is especially interesting in the US, where there is a distinct gender-gap in voting patterns and general political belief.

Washington looks at the question "whether parenting daughters increases a congress person’s propensity to vote liberally on women’s issues bills, and tries to find an answer by analysing the legislators' voting record based upon the voting score given by the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

We can probably all think of instances where a person's stance on one issue is contrary to his or her general political views, because he or she is in some way directly affected by that issue. Vice-president Cheney's relatively liberal stance on gay rights is an obvious example.
Given this, it's hardly surprising that Washinton reaches the conclusion that the legislators who have a daughter tend to be more progressive than legislators who don't.

[Democrats] with one daughter earn an average NOW score that is four points higher than those with no daughters. Those with two daughters have an average score that is an additional ten points higher than those with only one. Although their mean NOW score is lower, the same relationship holds for Republicans with two children [...] The average NOW score is six points higher for Republicans with one daughter compared with those with none. The marginal increase for the second daughter is one additional point.

I don't know how this result can be useful for feminsists and other progressives, but it would seem that if you have the choice of two untried candidates, it's a good idea to vote for the ones with the most daughters. So, which Democratic presidental candidate would that be? Of course, in their case we often do have a previous track record to go by, which obviously is more relevant.

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Blogger tigtog said...



March 13, 2007 10:48 PM  

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