Study Finds Girls Are Alienated From Politics at an Early Age

A new study led by Angela L. Bos, a professor of political science at the College of Wooster in Ohio, finds that young girls become alienated from politics at a young age and come to believe that the political arena is “a man’s world.”

Based on data from 1,604 children who lived in four different regions across the United States, researchers found that children perceive politics to be a male-dominated space. Students in grades 1 to 6 were given the task of drawing a political leader. Of the 1,604 students in the study, 66 percent drew a man as the primary political leader but only 13 percent depicted a woman. Of note, male political leaders dominated the drawings of students regardless of sex.

As children grow older, the researchers found that girls internalize gendered expectations, which direct their interests toward professions that embody the gendered traits that fit with their own sex. One result of this mismatch between women and politics is that girls express lower levels of interest and ambition in politics than do boys.

Professor Bos is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Morris. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

The full study, “This One’s for the Boys: How Gendered Political Socialization Limits Girls’ Political Ambition and Interest,” was published on the website the American Political Science Review. It may be accessed here.

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