Americans Still See Glass Ceiling in Politics, Business

(CN) – The majority of Americans today say there are not enough women in high political offices or executive business positions, but many believe that the country might never achieve gender parity in these leadership positions, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans say there are too few women in top political and business positions, but 48 percent believe that men will continue to hold more high political offices than woman in the future, and 46 percent believe men will continue to reign in the business world, according to the Pew survey.

The research center’s Women and Leadership 2018 report examines the public’s views on gender and leadership and the obstacles women face when seeking leadership positions. In a survey of nearly 4,600 American adults, conducted in June and July, Pew researchers found that 69 percent of the public believes that having more women in leadership roles would improve the quality of life “at least somewhat” for all Americans.

Democrats and Republicans have very different views of women in leadership roles, according to the 48-page report. While 79 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believe there are too few women in high political offices, only 33 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners say the same.

However, among Republicans there is a wide gender gap in views on women and leadership, with 44 percent of Republican women saying there are too few women in high elected offices, compared to 24 percent of Republican men. Sixty-four percent of Republican women say that “women having to do more to prove themselves than men” is a major reason why there aren’t more women in high political offices, while only 28 percent of Republican men agree.

The survey found that, overall, women are much more likely than men to see barriers holding women back from reaching leadership positions in business or politics.

Six in 10 women point to gender discrimination as a major obstacle to getting women in leadership roles, while 44 percent of men view this as an obstacle in the corporate world, and only 36 percent of men believe discrimination affects women in politics. Younger women (under the age of 49) are more likely than older women to say that gender discrimination is a major obstacle for women who are trying to obtain leadership roles.

The public also believes that family responsibilities are a barrier for women. Thirty-four percent of Americans say that a woman aspiring to a leadership position in business should not have children, and 41 percent say such a woman should wait until she’s “well-established in her career” to have children. Fifty-one percent of the public says that it’s better for a woman who wants to lead in politics to have children before entering politics.

Nearly half of Americans want to see equal numbers of men and women in top leadership roles in the business and political worlds, and very few (6 percent) want there to be more women than men in these roles.

Although 57 percent of Americans think men and women have “basically different” leadership styles, 62 percent say that neither gender is better at leading.

Americans see some traits as more beneficial to men than to women who are trying to get elected to a high political office or appointed to an executive business position. Seventy-four percent believe that being assertive helps men get elected, while only 50 percent say this trait helps women get elected. Ambition is another trait that is viewed as more beneficial for men than for women.

Sixty percent of Americans believe being physically attractive helps women get elected, and 69 percent believe attractiveness helps women reach leadership roles in business, while 49 percent say attractiveness helps men in politics and 54 percent say it helps them in business.

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