Does gender influence humanitarianism? An assessment of American public support for humanitarian interventions.

Thumbnail Image




Grieco, Joseph M

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



With the rise of Feminist Security Theory, the acknowledgement of gender differences in policy attitudes has found its way into the field of IR. The goal of this paper is to assess the relevance of gender as an indicator for American public support for humanitarian interventions. In investigating the relationship between gender and military force, a two-way approach was chosen. Using the results of a factorial survey experiment, I first examined how male and female Americans differ in their mean support level for humanitarian interventions. Existing research indicates that women are less inclined to support the use of military force as they appear to be more “casualty sensitive” than men. My research confirmed previous findings in this field. By controlling for test subjects’ demographic characteristics such as party ID, socioeconomic class, foreign news consumption habits, religion, and education level, an additional layer on top of the gender variable was provided. Statistically significant differences in support levels between men and women who belong to the same socioeconomic class and share a religious faith were found. In a next step, I analyzed if the gender of foreign casualties has an impact on public support. Since women are commonly framed as more “vulnerable” and “valuable” members of society, my hypothesis stated that American public support for humanitarian interventions increases when the majority of civilians casualties are female. This study reveals that overall, there is no relationship between respondents’ mean level of support and victims’ gender. Significant differences were found when controlling for religion and education level. I argue that in cases where there was a difference between male and female support levels, either the existence or the lack of gender-conforming values could have affected the outcome.





Stoll, Thamina J (2017). Does gender influence humanitarianism? An assessment of American public support for humanitarian interventions. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.