There’s a Huge Gender Gap in Public Perception of Drones

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 25 2013 11:19 AM

There’s a Huge Gender Gap in Public Perception of Drones

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Anti-drone strike protesters

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Men have typically been portrayed as the more hawkish gender when it comes to war and violence. And a new study released this morning from the Pew Research Center shows that these perceptions hold true for at least one new technology: drones.

According to the study, which surveyed global public opinion on the issue, many countries exhibit double-digit gender gaps in their approval of drone strikes by the United States—with men much more likely to express a favorable view. For instance, 41 percent of men in Japan approved of drone strikes, while only 10 percent of women did. Similar discrepancies can be found in many other countries, such as the Czech Republic, Australia, and Uganda.

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“Gender gaps are also often seen in global surveys over the use of military force, with women far less likely than men to say that force is sometimes necessary in the pursuit of justice. But the gender difference over drone strikes is unusually large,” writes Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at Pew, in a blog post.

The reason behind this striking difference is currently unknown—but worth a dissertation at least. (Some enterprising grad student should hop on that!) But if we want to get Freudian about it, we can just go with the Atlantic’s business writer Jordan Weissmann’s tweeted observation, “Shockingly, American men are totally cool with giant, flying phalluses that fire missiles.”

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Jathan Sadowski is a graduate student studying applied ethics and the human and social dimensions of science and technology at Arizona State University.

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