Schoettle - The Gender Gap in Online-Participation

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About the Ph.D. Project

This project is focussed on motivating and influencing factors on e-participation. From a sociological point of view, gender differences in motivation, use and evaluation of e-participation are under examination.

Background Information

The projected started in October 2014. Members of the advisory team are Prof. Dr. Ulrich Rosar (sociology, main advisor), Prof. Dr. Annette Schnabel (sociology, main advisor), Dr. Jost Sieweke (management and organisation) and Dirk Lahmann,City of Bonn.


Women tend to participate offline politically less than men (institutional and non-institutional). According to participatory democracy theory, (gender-)equal participation is seen as an indicator for modern democracies. The internet provides a huge potential, but also challenges for political participation via the internet. Actually, everyone should have the opportunity to participate online. This should be checked further. There are plenty of studies on conventional offline participation. In this PhD project, the validity of offline theory approaches are checked for their transferability on online participation. Moreover, the impact of sociodemographic factors, socialization, political interest and political efficacy, gender stereotypes, and Big 5 personality traits on e-participation is examined further. Regarding potential gender differences, ‚Doing Gender‘ is seen as a possible explanatory approach.

To check the established theoretical model empirically, an online-survey via the opinion research institute ‚Respondi‘ was conducted. The basic population includes persons at the age of 18 and higher, living in Germany, with basic computer- and internet efficacy. For these persons the conducted survey is representative. The population selected includes persons, who have registered on Respondi, at the age of 18 and higher, living in Germany. The number of cases was n=978. Quotas were set at 25% each (Participating / Non-Participating / male / female). In the questionaire, several questions about motivation for participation, use of different forms on e-participation platforms (commenting, making own suggestions, etc.) and valuation of the different functions were asked, as well as on sociodemographic factors like education, age, gender etc.


Empirical analyzes were part of the PhD project. Statistical evaluation methods were used for this purpose. Descriptive analyses show first connections, for example positive correlations between political interest and the intensity of participation. Multivariate analyses, for example factor analyses, linear as well as logistic regression modells, showed mutual connections of the examined variables. For example, men tend to be more interested in political topics, e.g. in economics, than women. This can influence poltical participation positively. Moreover, gender differences were found in the influencing factors on e-participation, more precisely in full-time work, political efficacy or political participation. More results will be shown till fall 2018.

Publications and projects

Monitor Online-Participation (2016):, with Peter Gladitz, Malte Steinbach, Nadja Wilker, Theresa Witt.

Peter Gladitz, Sabrina Schöttle, Malte Steinbach, Nadja Wilker, Theresa Witt (2017): DIID Monitor Online-Partizipation - Zum Stand von Online-Bürgerbeteiligung in den Kommunen Nordrhein-Westfalens, KommunalPraxis Wahlen 8(1), pp. 30-34.

Sabrina Schöttle (2017) Influencing Factors on E-Participation on Local Level - Who Participates Why?, CeDEM17: Proceedings of the International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2017, Peter Parycek, Noella Edelmann (Hrsg.), pp. 113-118.

Sabrina Schöttle (2016): The Gender Gap in Political Online-Participation – New Chances and New Challenges for Social Equality, International Journal of Digital and Data Law 2, pp. 119-128.

Sabrina Schöttle (2016): Role Models and Stereotypes in Germany from 1962 until today - Women, Household Chores and Employment. An Empirical Longitudinal Study, ISA International Forum of Sociology.