Gender Gaps in Political Ambition on Different Levels of Policy-Making

Robin Devroe, Hilde Coffe, Audrey Vandeleene, Bram Wauters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women consistently report lower levels of nascent political ambition than men. In this study, we investigate whether these gender differences occur to the same extent across local, national and European levels of policy-making. Using original data collected among a representative sample of young Flemish citizens aged between 18 and 35 (N = 1000), our descriptive results demonstrate a significant gender gap across all levels of policy-making, though the gap is slightly smaller at the local level. Stacked multivariate analyses confirm women’s lower levels of political ambition and show that the gender gap is significantly smaller at the local level compared with the European (but not the national) level, pointing to women’s lower levels of ambition for the European level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-946
Number of pages23
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number4
Early online date16 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG) in Ljubljana from 6 to 8 July 2022, and on an internal seminar at Ghent University with colleagues from the research groups GASPAR and CLP. We wish to thank the participants for their valuable feedback. Hilde Coffé would like to thank the International Research Office (University of Bath) for funding a research stay at Ghent University while working on the project

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Research Grant of the Flemish Research Foundation (FWO) [grant number 12ZZ821N] and by a Research Grant of the Special Research Fund of Ghent University (BOF) [grant number BOF.DPO.2018.0032.01]. The funders were not involved in the development of the study and the article.


  • Gender
  • Multilevel politics
  • Political ambition
  • Political representation
  • Second-order elections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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