Women And Political Leadership

By Jeff McGaw
Reading Eagle, Pa.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A survey by the Pew Research Center called “Women and Leadership” found that despite the record number of women candidates in the 2018 election, an increasing number of women fear voters are still reluctant to ELECT women.

Reading Eagle, Pa.

In case anyone doubted that men sometimes face fewer obstacles than women in reaching high political office, consider this: The first women’s restroom near the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives wasn’t built until 2011.

Until then, there was only a men’s room.

“Otherwise they would have to walk quite far just to use a woman’s facility,” said Diane Smith, president of East Coast Erosion Blankets LLC in Upper Tulpehocken Township, who recently toured the Capitol.

“Imagine in this century still having to fight for such simple requests,” she said.

Perceptions about obstacles faced by women in reaching high political office or top executive positions, and the role of gender bias in holding back women were among the issues explored in a survey by the Pew Research Center called Women and Leadership.

The survey, released in September, revealed that men and women, as well as Republicans and Democrats, have differing takes on women in leadership and obstacles they may encounter in climbing the ladder.

The survey also revealed that men and women of the same political stripe, especially Republican men and women, have differing views on those issues.

The Pew Research Center, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is a nonpartisan organization that conducts public opinion polling, demographic and data-driven social science research.

The Women and Leadership survey project surveyed 4,587 randomly selected adults online from June 19 to July 2, 2018. The survey results were compiled in a 52-page report which is available at

Key findings
A majority of Americans say women are under-represented, but few believe that the country will ever achieve gender parity in politics or business.

Other key findings from the Pew survey:
Republican women are far more likely than Republican men to suggest that unfair expectations and barriers are reasons for women’s low representation in politics and top business positions.

Younger women are more likely than older women to blame gender discrimination for holding back women.

Americans favor gender parity in political and business leadership, but few want women to overtake men in these areas.

The public is evenly divided on how men and women leaders handle pressure.

Men are widely viewed as being more willing to take risks.

Most say men and women have different leadership styles, but few believe that either gender has superior style.

Family responsibilities are more of a barrier for women in business than in politics.

Tougher for women
Most Americans say men have it easier, and that women must do more to prove their worth.

Lauren Minnich didn’t really need a scientific poll to figure that one out.

Minnich, 29, the owner of Wyomissing ATA Martial Arts, said, “I think our society sets us up to have high demands for us that really are not attainable and are not manageable.”

A 30-something, unmarried, childless woman is viewed with sympathy by some, Minnich said.

“It’s like ‘Oh, well, you’re missing out, you’re not a mom yet, you’re not married right now, what’s wrong with you?’ ” she said.

A unmarried, childless male of the same age, Minnich said, is just “the eligible bachelor.”

Smith believes things are improving.

“The times are changing, and people are starting to recognize the accomplishments of a person, regardless if they are male or female,” she said.

Gender discrimination
According to the survey, 79% of Democrats and left-leaning independents say there are too few women in high political offices, while only 33 percent of Republicans, and right-leaning independents, say so.

A majority of Democrats (64%) say gender discrimination is one reason why women are under-represented while only 30% of Republicans agree.

“I think that there is, whether consciously or unconsciously, gender discrimination at play,” Minnich said.

“We like putting people into boxes,” she said. “It’s different for us to have strong women who are a little more direct in what they say because women are supposed to be nice, and if we’re stirring the pot it’s a negative,” she said.

But, she added, “if a guy says something direct, oh, it’s helpful because he’s very black and white,” Minnich added.

Despite Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman nominated for U.S. President, and despite record numbers of women candidates in the 2018 election, an increasing number of women fear voters are still reluctant to elect women. That’s an impediment, they say, to women entering politics.

If the question is about whether voters are ready to elect more women, Minnich said she’d like to answer with a question of her own:

“Will we ever be ready?” She asked. “Were we ready to have an African American president? Some people weren’t, but we did. … I think now is the point where we’ve got women that are ready to represent us, and now is the time to get behind them and get them into office and make that the norm.”

Smith agrees.

“The glass ceiling is cracking and pieces are falling quickly.”

Poll results
Most Americans, 59 percent, believe women are under-represented in high political office and top executive positions. The percentage of those who agree with that view vary based on gender and political party.

All adults
Group politics: 59%
Top executives: 59%

Group politics: 48%
Top executives: 48%

Group politics: 69%
Top executives: 70%

Group politics: 33%
Top executives: 38%

Group politics: 79%
Top executives: 77%

Nearly half of all adults, 49%, believe gender discrimination is an impediment to women reaching high rank in politics and business. The percentage of various subgroups sharing that view are listed below:

All adults
Group politics: 49%
Top executives: 54%

Group politics: 36%
Top executives: 44%

Group politics: 59%
Top executives: 62%

Group politics: 30%
Top executives: 30%

Group politics: 64%
Top executives: 73%

Republican men are less likely than Republican women to say that women must do more to prove themselves in politics and top levels of industry.

Republican men
Group politics: 28%
Top executives: 21%

Republican women
Group politics: 64%
Top executives: 57%

Republican men are less likely to say that gender discrimination is an obstacle for women pursuing high political/executive positions.

Republican men
Group politics: 14%
Top executives: 16%

Republican women
Group politics: 48%
Top executives: 47%

A majority of men and women Democrats feel women are under-represented in political and business leadership positions.
63 percent of women Democrats feel women were not encouraged to be leaders from an early age, while 42 percent of male Democrats agree.

56% of women Democrats say sexual harassment is an obstacle to women in politics, while only 41% of male Democrats agree.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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