Using survey data collected from a larger comparative survey project employing a multistage, stratified, random sampling design administered in 1994, this article analyzes the gender gap in political culture and participation in China. We found a persistent gender difference, with male respondents scoring significantly higher on media attention, political knowledge, interest, internal, and external efficacy, and non-electoral participation. In accounting for the gender gap, the article also attempts to validate the prevailing socialization, situational, and structural theories. In terms of socialization theory, we found that women respondents were more passive towards achievement, more accommodating in conflict situations, and had a higher preference for conflict mediation by traditional authority. These traits were also found to be negatively correlated with political culture and participation measures. There is also empirical support for structural explanations, where we found that (1) higher socio-economic groups were more politically engaged than those in the lower strata; (2) higher socio-economic status women are more politically engaged than those of lower socio-economic status women and men. For both socialization and structural theories, the gender gap persisted even when passivity and socio-economic status were controlled. Our tests of situation theory did not find that the level of domestic burden had a significant dampening effect on women political culture and participation, nor did we find that women in the child-bearing and rearing cohort had the widest gender gap in political culture and participation.

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