A century after the 19th amendment was passed granting women the right to vote, nearly three in 10 men (28%) say that women's gains toward equality have come at their expense, according to a report released by Pew Research Center.
The report, which surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. men and women from March 18-April, 1, 2020, found that this difference in opinion about gender equality varies across party lines with 38% of Republican men saying that women's equality has come at the expense of men, compared to 19% of Democratic men. A quarter of Republican women also agree with this sentiment, while just 12% of Democratic women agree with this view.
Though a significant portion of men think women's progress is negatively impacting them, the overall report found that the majority of Americans, 57%, think the U.S. has not gone far enough with granting women equal rights. When asked about the major obstacles that are preventing women from achieving full equality today, 77% said sexual harassment, 67% said women not having the same legal rights as men, 66% said different societal expectations for men and women and 64% said not enough women in positions of power. Women overall were more likely than men to see each of these issues as major obstacles.
For the majority of Americans who say it's important for men and women to have equal rights, many point to disparities in the workplace as clear signs of gender inequality. In the U.S., women make up nearly half of the entry-level workforce, but comprise only a fifth of the C-suite and just 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEO seats. This is despite the fact that women earn nearly 60% of bachelor's and master's degrees, meaning there is no shortage of qualified women in the pipeline.
"It's disappointing," former finance executive and chair of Newmont Mining Corporation Noreen Doyle told CNBC Make It in March. When looking at the lack of diversity in leadership, she says it's clear that "there are a lot of subtle ways where men have been advantaged over women."
When asked what a gender equal society would look like, 45% of the Pew survey respondents said that men and women would have equal pay and an additional 19% said that there would be no discrimination in hiring, promoting or providing educational opportunities for women.
Right now, women earn roughly 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, with women of color earning even less. Over the course of a 40-year career, this adds up to $407,760 in lost wages, according to the National Women's Law Center. For Black, Latina and Native women, this wage disparity adds up to a loss of nearly $1 million or more over the course of one's career.
In addition to this ongoing pay gap, a 2019 report from Lean In and McKinsey & Company, found that for every 100 men promoted and hired to a manager position, only 72 women are promoted and hired for the same role, signaling major obstacles around gender bias in the workplace.
"Men are typically hired based on potential and what we believe they can do," says Lean In co-founder and CEO Rachel Thomas. "While women are typically hired and promoted based on what they've already accomplished."
Thomas adds that if companies don't pay attention to this bias, then the leadership pipeline will continue to be filled with a disproportionate number of men.
Aside from sharing their views about gender equality in the workplace, Pew also asked U.S. adults to share their opinions about what groups and institutions have been beneficial in helping to advance women's rights. According to survey results, 59% of Americans believe the Democratic Party has done at least a fair amount to advance gender parity, while 37% say the same about the Republican Party.
In terms of the feminist movement, 64% of adults say it's helped the lives of White women, 61% say it has helped the lives of Black women and 58% say it has helped the lives of Hispanic women at least a little bit. Overall, the respondents say feminism has helped White women a lot more than it has helped women of color and they say feminism has helped wealthy women a lot more than poor women.
Additionally, as lawmakers push to include the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, the report found that while 78% of Americans are at least somewhat in favor of this move, just 44% believe that it would actually make a difference in advancing women's rights.