Most Republicans Think the U.S. Has Done Enough for Gender Equality

This ongoing push for gender equality? It’s much ado about nothing, says a majority of Republicans.

In a report out Wednesday, the Pew Research Center found that 54% of Republicans (or those who lean Republican) say the country “has been about right” when it comes to giving women equal rights with men. Another 18% say the U.S. has gone too far in this regard. Twenty-six percent, meanwhile, say the U.S. hasn’t done enough.

These results—compared to those for Democrats—point to a dramatic partisan divide in the U.S on the topic of gender equality.

Among Democrats (or those who are left-leaning), 69% say the U.S. must do more to ensure women equal rights, 26% say things are “about right,” and 4% say efforts toward such an end are excessive.

Not all Democrats hold the same views on gender equality, however—and the division was mainly between those with and without a college education. While 81% of bachelor’s degree holders and 73% of those with some college experience say the country needs to do more on this front, just 55% of those with a high school diploma or less say the same. (Republicans’ views are consistent across education levels.)

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“[T]he country is sharply divided over how much work remains to be done [on achieving equality], and those divisions are rooted mainly in the growing partisan schism that pervades American values and culture these days,” the report says.

The divide between Republicans and Democrats is apparent throughout the paper, which is based on responses from 4,573 people:

  • Democrats (49%) are more likely than Republicans (19%) to say that men have easier lives than women these days.
  • A larger share of Democrats (58%) than Republicans (36%) say that evolving gender roles have made it easier for women to lead satisfying lives.
  • A larger share of Democrats (48%) than Republicans (30%) also say that such changes have made it easier for men to lead satisfying lives.

Despite Republicans’ apparent satisfaction with gender equality in the U.S., the Pew report, conducted August through September, also details just how disadvantaged women remain.

According to its results, 43% of women report having experienced discrimination or unfair treatment because of their gender, compared to 18% of men. And despite the tremendous gains women have made in the labor force in recent decades, their wages still lag men’s (due to childcare responsibilities, bias, stereotypical gender norms, and their limited access to male-dominated networks) and they remain underrepresented in key leadership positions. The most recent Fortune 500 list, for instance, included 32 female CEOs—a record, but just 6.4% of the total.

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