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Why don’t more women support independence?

Author: Rachel Ormston

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Opinion poll after opinion poll finds a ‘gender gap’ in men and women’s support for Scottish independence. But why are women apparently less willing than men to support independence? This paper uses data from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) to explore this issue.


As the debate about Scottish independence intensifies, commentators and campaigners on both sides have started to pay attention to key groups whose views may prove decisive in determining the outcome of the referendum on 18 September 2014. Women are one such group. Opinion poll after opinion poll shows that women are less likely than men to support independence. ScotCen’s Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) – the only survey to have asked the same question on support for independence since 19991 – has consistently found a ‘gender gap’ of around 6 to 7 percentage points. This briefing explains why this might be the case.