Political Science Publications and Other Works

Source Publication (e.g., journal title)

Politics & Gender

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2008


A considerable body of research has analyzed the influence of the women’s movement, changes in women’s political representation, and policies promoting women’s interests in the developing world. However, we know comparatively less about the degree to which the attitudes and behaviors of the mass public mirror these national patterns. This article explores the evolution of gender differences in citizens’ political interest, civic engagement, and support for women in politics in the Dominican Republic over 1994–2004, a period important for the country’s democratization as well as one of significant changes in gender-related discourse and policies. We find evidence of a shift from a traditional gender gap to a modern gender gap, but the explanations for changes in women’s views are distinct from those of men. We find that sociostructural factors, particularly age and education, and cues from political elites have significantly different effects on men versus women. Women’s levels of political interest and support for equality in political participation are more fixed in their youth, whereas men’s levels evolve through middle age. The evidence also indicates that reducing the gender gap in political interest would significantly narrow gender differences in civic activism. Most notably, men appear to be more easily swayed by elite cues that favor or oppose women’s political participation; women’s support for equal participation is much less susceptible to reversals in elite support. The consolidation of advances in gender equity thus depends significantly on contextual factors such as elite discourse.

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