Sometimes It Takes A Daughter To Make A Man A Feminist

Social scientists Rebecca Warner and Ebonya Washington have found a strong correlation between having daughters and holding feminist views — particularly among fathers.

In a new study, British researchers Andrew J. Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee write:

The authors' key finding is that support for policies designed to address gender equity is greater among parents with daughters. This result emerges particularly strongly for fathers. Because parents invest a significant amount of themselves in their children, the authors argue, the anticipated and actual struggles that offspring face, and the public policies that tackle those, matter to those parents. . . The authors demonstrate that people who parent only daughters are more likely to hold feminist views (for example, to favor affirmative action).

In other words, equality matters most to many people when the people they care for deeply are most likely to lack it.

It goes further than just individual voters, too.

By collecting data on the voting records of US congressmen, Washington (2004) is able to go beyond this. She provides persuasive evidence that congressmen with female children tend to vote liberally on reproductive rights issues such as teen access to contraceptives. In a revision, Washington (2008) argues for a wider result, namely, that the congressmen vote more liberally on a range of issues such as working families flexibility and tax-free education.

She might not have looked into too many governors from Alaska, though.

Oswald and Powdthavee argue that it goes beyond simple issue-identification. People — particularly men — are more likely to vote for liberal candidates after having daughters than before.

We document evidence that having daughters leads people to be more sympathetic to left-wing parties. Giving birth to sons, by contrast, seems to make people more likely to vote for a right-wing party.

Yet another reason to love having daughters? This one is way better than the ability to buy dresses.

Having Daughters Rather Than Sons Makes You More Liberal [FiveThirtyEight]
Daughters and Left-Wing Voting [University of Warwick]