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[Ottawa – May 6, 2010] – A poll conducted for exclusive release by the CBC program Power and Politics illustrates some big differences in the view men and women have of federal politics.

In fact, most Canadians think that if there were more women leaders in federal politics, it would have a positive effect, though (surprise, surprise) women were more likely to feel this way than men. Men were about equally divided between those who thought women leaders would have a positive effect and those who thought it would have no effect.

There were some striking differences by party preference on this question. Conservative supporters were the only ones to opt in greater numbers for “no effect” over “positive effect”. They also had a higher than average propensity to say that women leaders would have a negative effect (14%). The supporters of all the other parties were decisively favourable to the effect of women leaders.

The poll also found that women differ profoundly from men on their election priorities. Women are much most likely to say that social issues such as health care and education are at the top of their list for the next election, but they don’t put much emphasis on fiscal issues such as taxes and debt. Men, in contrast, put the heaviest priority on the economy, jobs, and growth, and rank fiscal issues about equally with health care and education among their concerns. Neither men nor women rank government ethics and accountability high among their election priorities.

Interestingly, when it comes to qualities that Canadians look for in a leader, honesty is the dominant response, particularly for women. By a large margin, voters are seeking authenticity above all else. Men, however, put a slightly greater emphasis on intelligence and decisiveness than women.

It’s a cruel world, and women, like men, were least likely to choose compassion as the quality they most valued in a leader.

So what would the world be like with more women leaders? If this week’s responses are any indication, we wouldn’t be looking at the predictable “kinder, gentler” society, but rather one that is more honest and more focused on human capital concerns (such as health and education).

The relatively low standing of the Liberal party may reflect the lack of return on hammering on ethics issues (such as the Guergis-Jaffer affair), which voters say are least important to them. Moreover, longer term tracking shows a sharp decline on the emphasis on social issues and a rise in the importance of economic issues. This longer term trend away from social issues may explain the poorer performance of the Liberals today compared to their performance in the middle and earlier part of this decade when social issues were salient. At the end of the day, the party which can show honesty and progress on the bigger social and economic issues may be the one with the best prospects for breaking free of the current political quagmire.

Click here for the full report: full_report_may_6

1 comment to WOMEN SEE IT DIFFERENTLY – May 6, 2010

  • rick

    I’m surprised that “environment” was not in the list of top issues. Does EKOS even ask about the environment anymore?