A War of One’s Own: Understanding the Gender Gap in Support for War


Brooks, Deborah Jordan, and Benjamin A. Valentino. 2011. “A War of One’s Own: Understanding the Gender Gap in Support for War.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 75 (2): 270–86.

Authors: Deborah Jordan Brooks, Benjamin A. Valentino


The gender gap in support for war represents the largest and most consistent policy gender gap in public opinion polling. We know little about the causes of this gap, however, because scholars have not effectively isolated how or why the gender gap changes in response to the characteristics of different wars. We conducted two controlled experiments on demographically representative samples of U.S. adults to see if systematically varying the stakes of war (economic/strategic vs. humanitarian) or multilateral support for the action (U.N. approval vs. U.N. rejection) affects the size of the gender gap. We propose an interactive theoretical perspective that explicitly links these characteristics with key individual-level characteristics that might be driving the gender gap. Our findings indicate that the gender gap is strongly dependent on the specific context of the war. In fact, we find that the gender gap reverses when the war has U.N. approval or if the stakes of the war are humanitarian.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Political Economies Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2011

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