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Minding the gap: Women’s views of independence in 2014

Author: Rachel Ormston

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Summary

Women are less likely than men to say they will vote Yes to Scottish independence this September. This paper uses data from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) to explore this ‘gender gap’. It looks at where the gap is greatest and what, if anything, might explain it.

Introduction

The ‘gender gap’ in men and women’s support for independence has arguably become one of the best known and most frequently discussed research findings in the lead up to Scotland’s referendum in September 2014. Both s ides of the referendum debate now have organisations focused specifically on bringing their case to women (Women for Independence and Better Together Women).

Meanwhile, media commentators have suggested that women may ‘hold the key’ to the outcome of September’s vote.1 ScotCen’s Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA)2 – the only survey to have asked the same question on support for independence since 1999 3 – has consistently found a ‘gender gap’ of around 6 to 7 percentage points (Table 1). In 2014, based on fieldwork conducted from 12 th May to 17th July, the gap in the proportion of men and women who say that independence is their preferred option was a particularly sizeable 12 points.