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U.S. Satisfaction With Women's Treatment Remains Tepid

U.S. Satisfaction With Women's Treatment Remains Tepid

Story Highlights

  • Slight majority satisfied with women's treatment, but still diminished
  • Fewer than half of women versus majority of men are satisfied
  • Republican and Democratic women hold opposing views

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' satisfaction with the treatment of women in society fell to a record low two years ago after the emergence of the #MeToo movement as a national phenomenon in 2017, and it remains at that level today. Just over half of U.S. adults, 54%, are now very or somewhat satisfied with the treatment of women, down roughly 10 percentage points from 2015-2016 and well below the 67% to 72% range found previously between 2001 and 2013.

Line graph. Trend from 2001 to 2020; it reflects the percentage of Americans feeling satisfied with the treatment of women in society, which has fallen from 70% in 2001 to 53% in 2018 and 54% in 2020.

Today's level of satisfaction nearly matches the 53% recorded in late 2018, after allegations of sexual harassment or assault that toppled a number of prominent men in media, entertainment and business.

Fewer Than Half of Women Satisfied, Unchanged Since 2018

Men's and women's attitudes about the treatment of women have held steady since 2018, with about six in 10 men versus 46% of women in both polls saying they are satisfied with the situation. The 16-point higher satisfaction rating for men than women this year is slightly more than the average 11-point gender gap found since the start of the trend.

Line graph. Trend from 2001 to 2020 in percentages of men and women feeling satisfied with the treatment of women in society. Satisfaction was 80% among men and 61% among women in 2001, while today those figures are 62% and 46%, respectively.

The latest results are based on a Gallup poll conducted June 8 through July 24, including an oversample of Black Americans weighted to their correct proportion of the population. The question asks about Americans' satisfaction with the treatment of women without defining it; so responses could reflect perceptions of a variety of factors, ranging from job and pay equity to sexual harassment to women's share of domestic duties.

A recent Gallup poll, which investigated Americans' views about women's progress since the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote, found most believe equality has yet to be achieved in either the workplace or politics.

Other Gallup polling shows that nearly half of women have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime and that married women are more likely than their husbands to do most of the laundry, house cleaning and meal preparation, even in households where both partners work.

Most Republican Women Satisfied While Democratic Women Not

As Gallup found in 2018, larger differences in perceptions of women's treatment are seen by partisanship than by gender. While solid majorities of Republicans, regardless of gender, are satisfied with how women are treated in society, between one-quarter and one-third of Democratic men and women are satisfied. Women who are politically independent tilt more to the Democratic side on this question, with 43% satisfied.

Party Groups' Satisfaction With the Treatment of Women, by Gender
% Very/Somewhat satisfied
Nov 19-Dec 22, 2018 Jun 8-Jul 24, 2020
% %
Women 79 80
Men 88 83
Women 43 51
Men 62 63
Women 25 26
Men 29 33

Smaller differences are seen by race and age, with more White women and women over 50 than their counterparts being satisfied.

Gender Views on Women's Treatment in Society, by Race and Age
% Very/Somewhat satisfied
Nov 19-Dec 22, 2018 Jun 8-Jul 24, 2020
% %
Gender by race
White women 52 47
Black women 24 35
White men 67 67
Black men 35 40
Gender by age
Women, 18-49 42 42
Women, 50 and older 51 50
Men, 18-49 57 61
Men, 50 and older 66 61

Bottom Line

Three years after the #MeToo movement brought sexual assault and harassment against women into the open and contributed to a historically large number of women being elected to Congress in 2018, there has been no rebound in Americans' satisfaction with how women are treated.

While the slight majority of all Americans are satisfied, this is owing to the majority of men feeling this way versus less than half of women. But there is also a strong partisan aspect to this, with most Republican women satisfied, but not politically independent or Democratic women.

These differences likely affect the pressure that Republican vs. Democratic political leaders feel from their colleagues and constituencies on the issue, ultimately filtering through to the policies passed at the state and federal levels when different parties are in charge.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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