Gender equality is an important pillar of the progressive platform, but often the voting record doesn’t match the rhetoric on the campaign trail. How do we know which men are pandering and which are committed to gender equality in society?
A recent article in Public Opinion Quarterly (September 2018) suggests that there’s at least one very strong indicator of the sincerity of men on the stump when it comes to gender equality issues: Whether their first-born child was a daughter.
A collection of social science professors from Amherst and Brandeis University (Elizabeth Sharrow, Jesse Rhodes, Tatishe Nteta, and Jill Greenlee) surveyed straight men with children on a range of gender equality issues and compared results based on whether these men: 1) had a daughter among their children; 2) had multiple daughters; 3) had a daughter as their first-born child.
They found that fathers with a first-born daughter were 11% more likely to support gender-equality policies than their first-born son counterparts. Aside from the First Daughter Effect, fathers with daughters had no significant differences in opinion regarding gender equality policies.
There is no definitive explanation for the First Daughter Effect, but researchers have discussed two different theories. The first is that the first child is an integral part of a parent’s socialization process—parents attach more importance to their experiences with a first child than experiences with subsequent children. Another theory is that first daughters are likely to have more time with their fathers than their younger sisters.
While this is only one study and the sample size prevents one from drawing universal conclusions, for political practitioners considering the biography of potential candidates, this provides a very useful addition to the candidate interview; “Tell us about your children...in birth order”. Having only male children or a first-born son is certainly no disqualifier, but the evidence suggests men with a first-born daughter have a deeper understanding of the challenges facing women in the workplace and throughout society.
To read more about this study, click here. As always, we invite you to join our voter research conversation on social media with #chismstrat.