Gender stereotypes are still valid for young people and the types of political participation

Gender roles absorbed at an early age appear to have shaped today’s young people about their involvement in politics, in keeping with traditional stereotypes, a new study, conducted among adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 15, finds. 30 years in Italy, within the framework of the Horizon 2020 project: “CATCH-EyoU. Process in the construction by young people of an active European citizenship”.

In their research article, published in the peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal Social Psychology Bulletin, the research team at the University of Bologna reports that it is young men who would most often engage directly in politics, such as joining a political party, taking action to influence government policy, contacting a man political or participating in a demonstration. On the other hand, young women prefer to opt for civic activities, such as volunteering, charities, religious initiatives, boycott, etc.

Interestingly, previous research has attributed the higher level of political participation among men to women with generally lower incomes and access to education, as well as the fact that they are generally more busy cleaning and to take care of the family. However, taking educational and socioeconomic background into account, the new study concludes that the reason for the gender gaps is rather the role that society has instilled in survey participants from an early age.

The researchers explain that, culturally, traits like autonomy, leadership, assertiveness and dominance are considered male and as such are taught to boys through all channels. possible, including family, school, peers and the media. As a result, later on, these boys are likely to feel more confident in expressing their political views and taking action to defend them.

“The results suggest that in order to close the gender gap in political participation, girls must be empowered from an early age to exercise leadership, to experience a sense of action.” and acquire a critical awareness of the constraints and obstacles they face as women in order to overcome them. Education programs on gender equality, participatory youth action research and girls’ empowerment projects can help in this regard, ”commented the authors of the study.

Nonetheless, gender gaps in voter turnout are effectively nonexistent, according to the study. This was true for the last European parliamentary elections, national parliamentary elections and local elections. In fact, in Italy, gender gaps in voter turnout have been negligible since women were allowed to vote.

However, the reasons why women and men vote could be very different, the researchers speculate. While men may have the desire to vote simply because it is a logical part of their political behavior, in women it might instead be about exercising the stereotypical role of a woman, associated with more feelings. strong for civic duty, conscience and predisposition. respect the rules.

“The study of youth engagement is very informative because participation at a young age is conducive to future engagement in one’s life course,” the team concludes. “Future research should further examine the evolution of gender differences over time, their causes and effects among younger generations, as well as their impact on political equality.”

“While the current era of the #metoo movement suggests that gender dynamics may undergo new and promising social changes towards greater involvement of women, existing data on the persistence of gender gaps in youth participation – also confirmed by our results – pose important questions about the factors that determine differential preferences for specific typologies of actions by men and women. “


Research article:

Stefani, S., Prati, G., Tzankova, I., Ricci, E., Albanesi, C., and Cicognani, E. (2021). Gender differences in civic and political engagement and participation among young Italians. Social Psychology Bulletin, 16 (1), 1-25. https: //do /ten.32872 /spb.3887

Corresponding author:

Gabriele Prati, Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Bologna Email: [email protected]

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About Social Psychology Bulletin (SPB):

Social Psychology Bulletin (Psychologia Spoleczna) is an open access quarterly journal that publishes original empirical research, theoretical review articles, scientific debates and methodological contributions in the field of fundamental and applied social psychology. SPB actively promotes open science standards, supports an integrative approach to all aspects of social psychological science, and is committed to discussing timely social issues of high importance.

About PsychOpen:

Offered by the Leibniz Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID), PsychOpen is an online platform for the publication of primary scientific contributions in psychology. All PsychOpen publications are accessible free of charge (open access). Journals published on PsychOpen GOLD must meet clearly defined quality standards such as peer review of submitted articles, an international editorial board, and English metadata. PsychOpen supports the psychology research community with its specific communication needs (community publication). Publishing projects are developed within the community and are supported by the community. In this context, the focus is on European psychology.

About the Leibniz Institute for Information on Psychology:

The Leibniz Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID) is the supraregional organization supporting scientific research in psychology in German-speaking countries. It supports the entire process of scientific work, from collecting ideas and researching the literature to documenting research, archiving data and publishing results, based on ‘an ideal type of research cycle. It is committed to the idea of ​​open science and sees itself as a public open scientific institute for psychology.

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