Personal Finance

#MeToo reveals stark differences among Republicans, Democrats on sexual misconduct at work

Key Points
  • Half of survey respondents say that men evading accountability for workplace harassment is a "major problem"
  • Six out of 10 Democrats worried about men skating by on sexual misconduct at work, compared to about 3 out of 10 Republicans

Not only has the #MeToo movement revealed the reality of sexual harassment at work, but it's also unearthed a sharp partisan divide on where the country stands in gender equality.

Those were the findings from a recent Pew Research Center study. The think-tank took an online poll of 6,251 individuals from Feb. 26 to March 11, researching the nation's sentiment around workplace harassment.

The study revealed that 50 percent of all adults said that men getting away with sexual harassment and assault at work was a "major problem."

Broken down by political affiliation, however, 62 percent of Democrats said that men getting away with sexual misconduct at work was a "major problem."

The '#MeToo' movement moves to Wall Street
The '#MeToo' movement moves to Wall Street

Meanwhile, one in three Republicans felt the same way.

"We found that Republicans and Democrats have different views of where the country is in terms of gender equality," said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew Research Center.

Here's how partisan politics shapes views on gender discrimination and misconduct at the office.

A gap across the parties

The partisan divide corresponds with findings from earlier studies Pew had performed on gender equality.

For instance, in an October 2017 poll, 69 percent of Democrats said that the country hasn't gone far enough in granting women equal rights with men. Only 26 percent of Republicans agreed with that sentiment.

Even among women, differences along party lines persist.

A December 2017 poll by Pew found that about half of Democratic women said that they experienced at least one form of gender discrimination at work. In comparison, a third of Republican women felt the same way.

"These are some of the stark differences we've seen on these broader issues of gender equality in this country," Parker said.

Improving working conditions

It'll take more than a change in human resources policies to make a difference for working women, even after the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Pew's latest study found that 51 percent of the participants said that the heightened focus on harassment and assault at work would have little effect on women's career opportunities.

Only 28 percent said it would lead to more opportunities in the long run.

Indeed, half of companies have said they are reviewing their compensation policies to ensure fair pay for men and women in light of #MeToo and #TimesUp, according to a recent poll by Challenger Gray & Christmas.

"There's a strong sense among women that more changes are needed to give them equal opportunities," Parker said.

"This issue of sexual harassment is on the table," Parker added. "For most women, that's one step forward, but it doesn't address these broader structural issues women see in the workplace."

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