Half of American Men Still Can’t Handle the Prospect of a Woman in the White House
In 2019, just 49% of American men say they are comfortable with a woman president, according to a new poll on attitudes toward gender and power by consulting firm Kantar Public and Women Political Leaders, an Iceland-based nonprofit coalition of female politicians.
The poll surveyed 22,000 people ages 18 to 64 across eleven countries (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States), 2,000 of whom were Americans. Respondents were asked for their opinions on women and men’s suitability for leadership roles across multiple industries, as well as in politics. Countries were scored on an index of 1-100, 100 being a country with “perfect equality.” Even with just under half of men approving of a woman as head of state, the U.S. came in third, with a score of 75. Germany and France, at 77, tied for first place.
American women’s views were somewhat more favorable, with 59% saying they would approve of a woman heading a country. Unfortunately, there’s not much solace for women leaders in the other countries surveyed. Only in Canada (53%) and the U.K. (56%) did men report they were even slightly more comfortable with a woman as head of state than were the men surveyed in the other nine countries.
At least respondents are being honest. Three years after the 2016 election, where a woman came within spitting distance of the presidency (and lost), a compendium of previous polls shows that Americans continue to find creative ways to avoid admitting they feel uncomfortable with a woman in the White House.
A September poll of Americans by Leanin.org revealed that 53% of respondents said they were “very ready” or “extremely ready” for a woman to be president, but think no one else is as ready as they are; of the 29% of registered voters who claimed they were “extremely ready,” only 5% of that group believes the rest of the country agrees. Sometimes they blame this view on other peoples’ sexism.
A 2018 poll from Ipsos/Daily Beast found that just 33% of Democratic and Independent respondents believed their neighbors would vote for a woman. A headline on a FivethirtyEight review of multiple 2018 and 2019 presidential polls perhaps summed it up best: “Americans Say They Would Vote for a Woman, But …”
As FiveThirtyEight reporter Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux explained, “For months now, voters have told reporters that they want to elect a woman — but after Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, they simply can’t imagine a woman winning against Trump.”
Kantar Public CEO Michelle Harrison, who worked on the Kantar/Women Political Leaders study, was less alarmist in her analysis. “Women in all walks of life have a harder job on the journey to leadership than men,” she told HuffPost, adding, “I don’t think it’s telling us anything specific about a particular woman. Leaders always break through.”
Also, while women didn’t score high under equality in politics, there were some interesting results in industry. Americans are much more comfortable with women in positions of power in the media, where the equality index score was 82. Fully 61% of American respondents also said they were comfortable with a female CEO, although as Marketwatch points out, women make up just 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
Perhaps there is some future hope in politics as well. Joe Biden may be ahead in most polls, but according to a few surveys, including a CBS poll and multiple polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren is not far behind him.
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