Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The New Pew Survey of Women And Leadership

You can read it here.  Surveys of this type don't really say very much unless they are put in perspective by repeated surveys over time.  That's because they are snap shots of one point in time and because the answers also depend on what else is happening at that time.

To take an example, the survey asked the respondents whether they personally hope to see a woman as the president of the United States over their lifetimes.  This is how the answers looked:

The problem with that question is pretty obvious.  The name "Hillary Clinton" hovers in the background and the fact that the Republicans don't have any female candidate with the same chances of succeeding will inform the answers.

But I turned all sad noticing that the only group of respondents in that picture where the majority would like to see a female president in their lifetimes consists of Democratic women.   Most people are pretty comfortable with the idea that women in power are about as rare as black swans.  Which suggests that the way the MRAs tell women are running the whole world isn't exactly what is really happening.  And feminism has a long workday (generations, my sweetings) ahead of it.

Still, many of the other answers in the survey are encouraging.  In interpreting surveys of this type it's important to remember various types of response biases (especially telling people what they wish to hear), but it's also important to keep in mind that many of the answers will reflect social stereotypes, norms and mores.  Those change very very slowly.

And as expected, men who vote Republican are most likely to think that all the necessary gender work has already been done:

Republican men (54%) say the country has made the changes needed to give men and women equality in the workplace. By contrast about two-thirds (66%) of Republican women say more changes are needed. Even larger majorities of Democratic and independent women and Democratic men agree that gender parity is still a work in progress.
 That's especially interesting given that the survey asks questions about the best time for women to have children if they wish to become leaders and what with the absence of maternity leave of any reasonable amount or the expectation that mothers should be the ones responsible for children.