The 18th of September is fast approaching and the two main campaigns are stepping up their efforts to try and shore up their own vote whilst appealing to the undecided. One particular group that has been catching the attention of both the psephologists and the campaigns alike is women. Still more likely to be undecided, the women of Scotland have become a key group of voters that may yet hold the key to the result we wake up to (or stay up for) on the 19th of September. The Scottish Government has been accused by its opponents of trying to lure women into voting Yes with policy ‘bribes’ such as extended childcare and alleged ‘token gestures’ like bringing more women, namely Shona Robison and Angela Constance, into the cabinet. However, advocates of Yes argue that Scotland can become a more gender equal place after independence through measures such as ‘transformational’ childcare. However, little is known about what voters think about these issues.
So, what do people in Scotland think about gender equality and childcare? Using recent data from the Risk and Constitutional Change Survey designed by Ailsa Henderson (Edinburgh), Liam Delaney (Stirling) and Robert Lineira (Edinburgh) it is possible to get a better insight into how the Scottish public assess different constitutional scenarios with regards to how well it could promote gender equality and improve childcare provision.
The graph below shows how men, women and the public as a whole assess the potential of the UK to become more or less gender equal. For a sizeable majority, the UK is the status quo option with 63% believing that equality between men and women would stay the same if Scotland remains in the UK. When broken down by gender a gap does appear: 58% of women compared to 69% of men think equality between men and women will stay the same. Women are also more likely to be unsure: 20% compared to 8% of men answered ‘don’t know’. Whilst there does seem to be some belief that the UK is a vote for the status quo with regards to gender relations, there is little belief that the UK will bring about change either for the better or for the worse.