Discrimination

Survey Says: Democrats Think Men Have It Easier. Republicans Disagree.

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Ninety-six percent of respondents say gender equality is important, but they disagree on whether it has been achieved. Half say the country hasn’t gone far enough in giving women equal rights, about 40 percent say it has been about right, and 10 percent say it has gone too far.

A Partisan Divide on the Benefits of Changing Gender Roles

Changing gender roles have made it easier for:

REPUBLICANS

Women to lead satisfying lives

Women to be successful at work

Families to earn enough to live comfortably

Men to lead satisfying lives

Parents to raise children

Marriages to be successful

Men to be successful at work

Republicans

Women to lead satisfying lives

Women to be successful at work

Families to earn enough to live comfortably

Men to lead satisfying lives

Parents to raise children

Marriages to be successful

Men to be successful at work

“There really is no consensus among the public about whether changing roles have made things better or easier for families or for men and women,” said Juliana Horowitz, associate director of research at Pew and an author of the report. Although there are small gender gaps, the partisan divide drives the differences in responses, she said. Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to say changing gender roles had improved people’s lives.

College graduates were also more likely than those without college degrees to say that changing gender roles were a good thing, and that more needed to be done. Of college graduates, 69 percent said men had it easier, compared with 27 percent of those with a high school education or less who said so. Seventy-one percent of college graduates said changing gender roles had given women more satisfying lives, compared with 49 percent of those without college degrees.

Views about gender equality reflected experiences with gender discrimination, particularly at work. Women, Democrats and college graduates were much more likely to say they were discriminated against because of their gender, and more likely to think gender equality had not gone far enough.

“Male privilege allows men to be free to move about in public without threat of harassment,” a woman, 54, told Pew, which published responses anonymously. “When they speak, they are assumed to have some authority without having to prove it. They still earn more money than women.”

But Republican men were more likely than Democratic men to say they had experienced discrimination. And while only 10 percent of the public said the country had gone too far toward gender equality, 23 percent of men who said they experienced discrimination said so.

The largest shares of both men and women who said they experienced gender discrimination said it came in hiring, pay or promotions. Ten percent of women said they had experienced harassment or catcalling.

People who say women have it easier these days say women get preferential treatment in job opportunities, and those who think men have it easier say they have better pay and job opportunities.

When asked how women have it easier, one respondent, a 53-year-old man, said, “Lower standards for the same positions in order to get more women for those positions.” Another man, 46, said: “Everyone is on the prowl for perceived injustice and attempts to elevate women of all ages. Not so much for males.”

Explaining why men have it easier, a 29-year-old man said, “You simply need to look at the percentages of male C.E.O.s and relative salaries to see there is likely a systematic advantage to being male.”

Women have benefited more than men from being employed and from having men doing more at home, respondents said. But even for women, fewer than half of respondents said changing gender roles had benefited them outside work.

This might be because even though most women work and men do more at home, women still shoulder the bulk of the family responsibilities.

When asked how it’s easier to be a man, one respondent, a woman, 65, said: “Because most of them don’t have to work outside the home and take care of the children and everything else a woman normally does. A woman’s work is never done.”

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Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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