While women are more educationally successful and more involved in the workforce than ever before, there is a widespread perception among the public that full equality between men and women remains an elusive goal. Only four in 10 Americans say that society generally treats men and women equally. Attitudes have changed considerably in this regard in the last 20 years. Even so, a sizeable minority of adults (45%) still say that society favors men over women, up from 62% in 1993.
When it comes to the workplace, there is an even stronger feeling among the public that the playing field is uneven. A large majority of Americans say the country needs to keep making changes to give men and women equality in this field. About 55% believe that men make more money than women doing the same work, and nearly half say there is a gender gap in hiring and promotion when it comes to senior-level positions in business and government. However, there is a disconnect between these public perceptions and what people actually experience in their workplace. Very few adults say these gender differences exist where they work.
This section will examine attitudes on gender equality, the pay gap, and the glass ceiling. It will examine the experiences of men and women in the workplace and address what the public considers to be the most important reasons for the inequalities that persist.
Does society treat men and women equally?
The public is divided on the basic issue of how society treats men and women. Four in ten say that society generally treats men and women equally. A slightly larger portion (45%) say that society favors men over women. Only 9% say that society favors women over men. Attitudes have changed considerably in the last 20 years. When the Gallup Organization asked this question in 1993, only 23% said society generally treats men and women equally, and 62% said society favors men over women.27
There is a significant gender difference on this issue. About half of men (46%) say that, in general, society treats men and women equally, while only 34% of women agree. About half (53%) of women say that society favors men over women, compared to 36% of men who say the same.
The perception among women that men are treated more favorably spans generations. Roughly equal proportions of Millennial women (51%), Generation X women (55%), Baby Boomers (54%), and Silent Generation women (58%) say society generally favors males. men over women.
University-educated women are among those who say the most that men and women are not treated equally by society. 65% of women with a bachelor's degree or higher say that society favors men over women. This compares to 49% of women without a bachelor's degree. Likewise, men with a college degree (46%) are more likely than men who did not graduate from college (32%) to say that society is skewed in favor of men.
Equality in the workplace: are we there yet?
When respondents are specifically asked about conditions in the workplace, there is a strong sense that more needs to be done to promote gender equality. Just 29% of adults say this country has made the changes needed to achieve equality between men and women in the workplace, while 67% say the country needs to keep making changes. There is a significant gender gap on this issue, but even among men, 61% say more change is needed. On
seven in ten women (72%) say more changes are needed.
The gender gap is particularly wide among millennials: while 75% of millennials say more change is needed to achieve equality in the workplace, only 57% of male millennials agree. The gender gap is smaller between Generation X and Boomers.
The opinions of women are united through the generations. Boomer women, who have lived through an era of tremendous growth in terms of female labor force participation, are just as likely as millennial women to say that more changes must be made to achieve gender equality in the workplace ( 77% and 75%, respectively). Gen X women are of a similar opinion (68% say more needs to be done).
A large majority of conservative women (62%) say the country needs to keep making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace. Liberal women feel even stronger about it (87% say more should be done). The moderates are in the middle (76%).
There is a significant racial divide on this issue. Overall, blacks (85%) are more likely than whites (63%) or Hispanics (64%) to say the country needs to keep making changes to achieve equality between men and women in the workplace. The racial difference is greater among men than among women. While 83% of black men say the country needs to make more changes to achieve equality, only 56% of white men and 64% of Hispanics agree. Among women, 86% of blacks, 70% of whites and 63% of Hispanics say more change is needed.
Equal pay for equal jobs?
The fact that there is a pay gap between men and women is not lost on the public. About 55% of adults believe that men generally earn more than women today for the same work. But a sizeable minority (38%) say that if a man and a woman do the same job, they earn the same amount of money.
The perception that there was a wage gap in favor of men was much more widespread 30 years ago. In a 1982 CBS News poll, 70% of adults said that men earned more than women doing the same job.
Today, there is a significant gender gap in opinions about how men and women are paid. A large majority of women (62%) say that if a man and a woman do the same job, the man usually earns more; only 47% of men agree.
Women are pretty united in their views on this issue. The perception that men are generally paid more than women for doing the same work affects different generations of women. The one exception is Silent Generation women, 72% of whom say men generally earn more than women (statistically higher than the proportion of Millennial or Generation X women who say the same). Equal shares (62%) of women with and without children say that men generally earn more than women.
However, there is a significant educational gap on this topic. Women with a bachelor's degree or higher are much more likely than women with less education to say that men generally earn more than women (73% versus 55%). A similar educational gap exists among men, although it is not as wide: 55% of men with a bachelor's degree or higher versus 45% of men with less education say that men generally earn more than women.
Women who believe that the country has made the necessary changes to promote gender equality in the workplace tend to also believe that men and women are paid the same for doing the same work. Only 33% of women in this group say that men generally earn more than women. On the other hand, a solid majority of women who say the country needs to do more to promote gender equality in the workplace also believe that men earn more than women (73% say men generally earn more than women). women). , and only 23% say that the % say that men and women earn the same).
Do women have the same opportunities in the highest executive positions?
While women have made substantial strides in the workplace over the past few decades, there is clear evidence that women continue to be underrepresented at the highest levels of American business and politics. According to a recent Catalyst survey, women currently hold 4.2% of CEO positions in the Fortune 500 and 4.5% of CEO positions in the Fortune 1000.28And when it comes to politics, women hold 18% of seats in the US Congress and 23% of elected executive positions statewide.29
When it comes to getting a high-level job in business or government, the public is divided on whether men have an advantage over women or whether gender makes no difference. Some 46% of all adults say it's easier for men to get top executive jobs, and 43% say gender doesn't matter. Just 5% say it's easier for women to get the best jobs these days.
Opinions on this topic have changed significantly in recent decades. Thirty years ago, a CBS News poll found that 67% of the public believed that men had an advantage when it came to obtaining high-level executive positions in business and government. Only 23% thought that gender made no difference.
Today, men and women have very different opinions on this issue. In short, women are more likely to say that it is easier for men today to get top executive positions in business or government than to say that the playing field is level. Some 54% of women say it's easier for men to get important jobs, while 38% say it doesn't make much of a difference. Only 3% of women say it's easier for women to get important jobs these days.
Among men, the balance of opinion is different. Only 38% of men say it is easier for men to get top jobs in business and government today, while 48% say there is no difference between men and women in this regard.
Women of all generations agree on the ability of women to fill top executive positions today. About six in 10 Gen Y and Boomer women (58% each) and 55% of Gen X women say it's easier for men to land these positions. The opinions of the women of the silent generation are a little different: 41% say that it is easier for men to obtain these positions.
The educational gap on this subject is particularly large, both for men and women. In general, college-educated adults are much more likely than those without a four-year college degree to say that men have an advantage when it comes to hiring executive-level positions. Among women, 71% of those with a bachelor's degree or higher say it's easier for men to get top jobs in business or government. Only 47% of women without a degree agree. This is relevant, because women with a college degree are more likely than their less-educated counterparts to compete for high-level jobs. Among men, 50% of those with a four-year college degree say it's easier for men to get important jobs, while only 34% of men without a bachelor's degree agree with that assessment.
Perceptions do not match experiences.
Despite the general perception, especially among women, that men have an advantage in terms of earning power and access to high-ranking jobs, relatively few employed adults report this type of inequality in their own workplace. A solid majority of workers (73%) and women (75%) say that where they work, men and women are paid roughly the same for doing the same work. About 14% of women and 9% of men say that, in their workplace, women are paid less than men for doing the same work, and relatively few (4% of men and 3% of women) say that women receive more than men.
Among those who are employed, blacks are about twice as likely as whites or Hispanics to report that women are paid less in their workplaces. One in five blacks say women are paid less than men where they work. That compares with one in 10 for whites and Hispanics.
Women who believe the country needs to do more to promote equality in the workplace are significantly more likely than those who say the country has done enough to say that women are paid less than men in their jobs. workplaces (17% vs. 5%). Even so, 71% of women who believe the country still needs to make changes to promote gender equality say that, at least where they work, men and women doing the same job earn more or less the same.
Just as most employed adults say there is no gender pay gap where they work, a solid majority say that men and women have roughly equal opportunities for advancement or promotion. Overall, 73% of adults who work full or part-time say that in their workplace, women have the same opportunities as men to advance in their jobs. About 14% say that women have fewer opportunities for promotion or advancement, and 8% say that women have more opportunities than men in this regard.
Men and women have similar views on this issue. 73% of men and 72% of women say that, in their workplace, men and women have the same opportunities for promotion.
Among working women, Boomers are slightly more likely than Millennials to say that women in their workplace have fewer opportunities to advance than men (23% vs. 10%). Gen Xer women are in the middle (17%). 79% of millennial women say that where they work, women have almost the same chance of getting ahead as men.
Perceptions do not vary according to whether the women themselves sought a raise or a promotion. Approximately equal proportions of women who say they have asked for a raise or promotion and those who say they have not, report that in their workplace, men and women have roughly equal opportunities for promotion. But women who say the country needs to make more changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace are much more likely than women who think the necessary changes have already been made to say that women in their workplace they have fewer opportunities than men (21% vs. 9%).
There is no public consensus on the underlying causes of the gender pay gap
As the economic data inChapter 1Let's be clear, there is a difference in salaries between men and women. It may be shrinking, but it's still around, and a variety of factors could contribute to this gap. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of some of these factors. The most compelling explanation for the pay gap, according to the public, is that men and women make different decisions about how to balance work and family. About half of all adults (53%) say this is one of the main reasons women earn less than men. Another 26% say this is a minor reason for the gender pay gap, and 16% say it is not a reason.
Some 46% of all adults say that being treated differently by employers is one of the main reasons women earn less than men. Four in ten adults say that the fact that men and women work in different occupations is one of the main reasons. And a quarter (26%) say that the fact that men and women do not work the same number of hours is one of the main reasons for the difference.
There are significant gender differences on this issue, particularly with regard to the choices men and women make about work-family balance and different treatment by employers. Women are much more likely than men to see these two explanations as the main reasons for the pay gap. 60% of women say that women and men make different decisions about how to balance work and family is one of the main reasons why women earn less than men; 46% of men agree that this is one of the main reasons. A similar proportion of women (54%) say that one of the main reasons for the gender pay gap is that employers treat men and women differently. Only 38% of men agree that this is one of the main reasons for the difference.
Economic data confirms that women work fewer hours per week, on average, than men.30The public sees this as a less convincing explanation of the gender pay gap. Women are slightly more likely than men to say this is one of the top reasons women earn less than men (28% vs. 23%). And among women, mothers, nonwhites, and those with less college education are particularly likely to see this as an important factor.
Women with children under the age of 18 are more likely than women without young children to say that the choices men and women make about the balance between work and family are one of the main reasons for the gender pay gap (66 % vs. 57%). Women without a college degree are more likely than college graduates to cite differences in occupations and working hours as important reasons why women earn less than men.
Women who say the country needs to keep working to achieve a goal of gender equality in the workplace are more likely than women who say this goal has already been achieved to say that different treatment by employers is one of the main reasons for the gender pay gap. (63% vs. 32%).
Who is more career focused: men or women?
Previous analysis from the Pew Research Center shows that while the roles of men and women at work and at home have greatly converged in recent decades, men still spend more time, on average, in paid work, while women spend more time caring for children. household chores However, most Americans (66%) say that among people their age they know, men and women are equally focused on their jobs or careers. About 14% say the men they know are more career focused than women, and an equal proportion (16%) say women are more career focused.
There is no significant gender difference in this question. About two-thirds of men (67%) and women (64%) say that among the people they know, both genders are equally focused on their careers.
There is an interesting generation gap on this topic. Most Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and Silents say that among the people they know, men and women are equally focused on their jobs or careers. However, Millennials (24%) are more likely than their older peers to say that the women they know are more focused on their career than the men they know. Gen Xers (21%) are more likely than other generations to say the men they know are more career-focused, but 18% still say women their age are more career-focused than men. mens. Boomers are more likely than any other group to say that among the people they know, men and women are equally focused on their careers (76%).
Differences in income and education also exist on this issue. Adults with annual household income of $75,000 or more are more likely than less wealthy adults to say that the men they know are more career-focused than the women they know. On the other hand, those with incomes of $30,000 a year or less tend to say that the women they know are more career-focused than their male counterparts. Additionally, adults with a bachelor's degree are more likely than adults with less education to say that the men they know are more career-focused than women (19% vs. 12%). And those with less education are slightly more likely than college grads to say that women their age are more career-focused (18% vs. 13%). Still, most of all income and education groups say that the men and women they meet are equally focused on their jobs or careers.
Opinions also vary based on race and ethnicity. While white adults are more likely to say the men they know are more career focused (16%), black and Hispanic adults are more likely to say the women they know are more career focused (25%) and 26%, respectively). ). 🇧🇷
Do men and women care about the gender of their coworkers?
While there are still some male and female dominated occupations in the US, the workplace is much more gender integrated today than it was 50 years ago. Still, a substantial minority of adults think that men prefer to work alongside other men. When asked if men prefer to have other men or women as co-workers, or if it doesn't matter, 36% of all adults say that men prefer to work with other men. Just 8% believe men prefer to have women as co-workers and around half (52%) say they don't think men care one way or another.
There is a significant gender gap in perceptions of what men prefer. About 40% of the women surveyed say that men prefer to work with other men. By comparison, 32% of men surveyed say the same. Among the men surveyed, 58% say they think "men don't care," compared to 46% among women. Millennials of both genders are more likely than previous generations to believe that men prefer women as co-workers.
Respondents were also asked about women's preferences: do women prefer to work with other women or with men, or does it not matter? Most adults (59%) say women don't care. The rest are evenly split on what women prefer: 17% say women prefer other women as co-workers, and 17% say women prefer men.
Once again, there is a gender difference in perceptions. About twice as many men (25%) than women (10%) say that women prefer other women as co-workers. Men are less likely than women to say that women prefer men as co-workers (13% vs. 21%). A 65% majority of women surveyed said the gender of co-workers does not matter to women, compared to just 53% of men surveyed.
Perceptions do not match experiences when it comes to gender preferences in coworkers. When respondents with some work experience were asked if they preferred to work mainly with men or mainly with women, they said they had no preference. Overall, 77% say it doesn't matter if their co-workers are men or women; that includes 78% of men and 76% of women.
Among those with a clear preference, both men (14%) and women (18%) say they prefer having men as co-workers. Less than one in ten of both sexes say they prefer to have women as co-workers. Millennials are the least likely to say they prefer men as co-workers: just 11% of Millennials say so, compared to 19% of Gen Xers, 16% of Boomers, and 21% of Gen Xers. the Silent Generation.