Gender, Feminism and Electoral Behaviour in Britain

Bernadette C Hayes

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last 20 years, public attitudes towards the question of women's rights and feminist issues has emerged as an important and controversial political issue within British society. Despite this increase in controversy, however, the impact of feminist attitudes in predicting electoral outcomes has not been assessed. Although research analysts have devoted considerable attention to gender diffierences in political attitudes and outcomes, the role of feminist orientations in either mediating or explaining these gender differences has been almost totally ignored. In an effort to remedy this situation, this paper focuses on the relationship between gender, feminist attitudes and electoral behaviour in Britain. The results suggest that whereas individuals who adopt a pro-feminist orientation are distinctive in terms of their electoral choices, gender per se has no notable impact on vote. In other words, at least as far as the question of British electoral patterns are concerned, it is feminism and not gender which emerges as the key variable in distinguishing party choice in this society. In contrast to women who are neither more or less likely to vote for the Conservative Party, support for feminist issues remains a distinctively non-Conservative phenomenon; individuals who adopted a pro-feminist orientation are significantly less likely to vote for the Conservative Party than any other major political party within Britain. Furthermore, there is no interaction effect between gender and feminist attitudes in relation to this issue. As a group, feminist women are neither more or less likely to cast their vote for any one particular party than feminist men. The implications of these findings for future electoral outcomes in Britain are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


  • gender
  • feminism
  • Britain
  • vote
  • attitudes
  • women's rights


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