Gender and Political Mobilization Online: Participation and Policy Success on a Global Petitioning Platform

Ash Center Occasional Paper, July 2017

61 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018

See all articles by Jonathan Mellon

Jonathan Mellon

University of Manchester

Hollie Russon-Gilman

Harvard University

Fredrik M. Sjoberg

World Bank

Tiago Peixoto

World Bank - Governance Global Practice

Date Written: July 1, 2017

Abstract

As political life moves online, it is important to know whether online political participation excludes certain groups. Using a dataset of 3.9 million signers of online petitions in 132 countries, we examine the descriptive success (number of successful petitions) and substantive success (topic of successful petitions) of women and men. Women’s participation is higher than expected in the ‘thin’ action of petition signing, but consistently lower in the ‘thick’ action of petition creation. We do not find a link between lower female thick participation and female descriptive success. In terms of substantive success, we find successful petitions reflect female users’ priorities more closely than men’s, independent of the petition initiator’s gender. These results hold both platform-wide and within most countries in the dataset. We show that these results occur due to the low level of petition success (1.2%) on the platform, which increases the importance of thin forms of participation.

Keywords: gender representation, political participation, online petitions, descriptive representation and substantive representation, descriptive success and substantive success

Suggested Citation

Mellon, Jonathan and Russon-Gilman, Hollie and Sjoberg, Fredrik and Peixoto, Tiago, Gender and Political Mobilization Online: Participation and Policy Success on a Global Petitioning Platform (July 1, 2017). Ash Center Occasional Paper, July 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3144040 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3144040

Jonathan Mellon (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Hollie Russon-Gilman

Harvard University ( email )

No Address Available

Fredrik Sjoberg

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Tiago Peixoto

World Bank - Governance Global Practice ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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