Targeted Killing: Drones

Why Do Women Hate Drones---And Men Love Them?

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:09 AM

The Atlantic has an interesting article out about a new Pew poll showing a striking gender gap internationally in attitude towards drone strikes. As Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal puts it,

Women were much less likely to approve of "the United States conducting missile strikes from pilotless aircraft called drones to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia."

In Japan, for example, support for drone strikes was 30 percentage points lower than their male counterparts. The smallest gaps -- in France, South Korea, and Uganda -- were 14, 14, and 13 percentage points, respectively. On average, there was a 22-point gap between male and female support for drone strikes, and it didn't matter if there was considerable overall support for strikes or not.


Madrigal surveys other polling on war and peace issues and fines the drone gap much larger than the gaps on other matters:

The most directly comparable poll we could find focused on conflict in the Persian Gulf in the early 90s. Researchers asked whether respondents would support US military action if the embargo in Iraq failed. On average, men supported the option more than women by 7 percentage points. But there was considerably more geographic variation. Women in Ankara (the researchers surveyed by city rather than country) showed more support for the intervention than men there. Musocvites were roughly even, too. The differences were small in Lagos and Rome; largest in Stuttgart (-17), Tokyo (-15), and Mexico City (-15). The drone data, by contrast, shows a much more consistent pattern.

In 2003, Tufts University's Richard C. Eichenberg conducted a meta-analysis of polling on gender differences in the United States related to war. He found that what he called "baseline average foreign policy restraint" differed between men and women by an average of 12 percentage points. That is to say, women were less likely to support military action by an average of 12 percent.

But he also showed that the polling language could create big changes in how much support men and women were willing to give the use of force. Here's his original table:

Fascinatingly, the closest corollary to a drone strike -- air or missile strikes -- did not remarkably change the gender difference numbers. In fact, none of the *methods* of military intervention seemed to change the numbers very much in Eichenberg's study.