Figures confirm that less than one in five members of congress and one in 15 Fortune 500 CEOs are female. Data also shows, in the best case scenario, women only earn 80 percent of what men do, and the gap only gets worse as women age. These are cold hard facts, yet Americans remain divided as to whether gender inequality still exists in our nation.
The line in the sand seems to be drawn by one’s political affiliation. New Pew Center research revealed that 70 percent of Democrats aren’t happy with the progress made toward gender equality whereas 54 percent of Republicans say things are “about right.“ Only 26 percent of right-wingers believe the country has more work to do.
Dems are also more likely to believe men have it easier in life than women. The majority of Republicans — 68 percent — say neither men nor women have it easier, claiming the playing field is level. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to believe diverse gender roles (example: a male taking care of a child while a woman supports financially) have made it easier for couples to raise children, earn more money and develop better, successful relationships. Broken by gender, nearly 60 percent of women don’t think the country has achieved equality, while a third of men think things are equal. However, an even larger group of men — 42 percent — believe more work must be done.
Below, using Pew’s newly acquired data, we can get a glimpse into how different influences affect one’s opinion on gender equality. Some of the findings aren’t that shocking, while other stats will raise a few eyebrows.
Democrats with higher education (a bachelor’s degree or beyond) believe Americans have yet to achieve equality compared to those with "some college.” Just over half of Dems with a high school degree or less share this belief. A similar trend is evident in the opinion as to whether men have it easier in life than women. Democrats with less education are more likely to believe that women are equal to men. Education didn’t have much of an impact when it came to Republican opinions on the matter.
Today’s young women are no less likely than older generations to believe that gender equality is normal. In fact, millennial women are more likely than Gen X and Baby Boomers to say men have it easier than women. These days, over half of millennial women (70 percent of which identify as Democrat or lean to the left) share this belief compared to just 37 percent or fewer of previous generations. Six in 10 millennial men believe women have benefitted from diverse roles at home and work, while only 48 percent of millennial women agree.
Four in 10 women have experienced gender discrimination compared to less than 20 percent of men. However, far more Democratic women claim to have experienced this sort of unfair treatment compared to Republicans — 51 to 34 percent. Interestingly, Republican men are more likely to claim they’ve experienced discrimination compared to men who lean on the left. Naturally, 71 percent of women who have personally dealt with discrimination believe inequality is still rampant compared to those 46 percent of those who haven’t. Almost one-quarter of men who have felt discrimination say the country has gone “too far” regarding equality. One in 10 men feels they haven’t experienced discrimination in the slightest.
When the few Americans who believe women have it easier in today’s America than men were asked to elaborate on their answers, 30 percent said women have more job opportunities and receive preferential treatment in the workplace. One in 10 men think the law favors women and eight percent claim people believe women when they are making accusations of sexism, sexual harassment or sexual assault.
As gender roles shift, more people see benefits for women than for men. Almost half of people say these evolving gender roles have made it easier for women to lead satisfying lives, while four in 10 believe these roles have made it easier for men to lead satisfying lives. About half of Americans — 47 percent — say the changes have made it easier for families to earn money. Somehow, a quarter says they’ve made things harder while 27 percent says it hasn’t made much difference.
As far as parenting goes, four in 10 think raising a child has gotten easier while 38 percent believe these changes have improved their marriages. A significant amount of people, 30 percent, report it’s harder. As for one’s politics, Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to see benefits in most these areas.