The XX Factor

The Majority of American Men Believe Sexism Is Over, According to a New Poll

Democratic women aged 65 and over are more likely than any other demographic to believe sexism exists.


The majority of U.S. men believe that sexism has been all but defeated, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday. A survey of 4,602 adults found that 56 percent of men think that “obstacles that made it harder for women to get ahead are largely gone.” Among women surveyed, 34 percent agreed that sexism was mostly a thing of the past, while 63 percent believed that “significant obstacles still make it harder for women to get ahead than men.”

The poll, conducted from June 7 to July 5, found that a little over half of U.S. adults, 53 percent, think sexism still exists. That includes 68 percent of people who are Democrats or lean Democratic, and just 35 percent of people who are Republicans or lean Republican. Republican women are more than twice as likely as Republican men to believe in sexism, though half of Republican women and three-quarters of Republican men think gender-related obstacles to women’s success are “largely gone.”

There’s a smaller gender gap among Democrats when it comes to believing that sexism is a thing. Of Democratic women, 74 percent think gender-based barriers still exist, compared to 60 percent of Democratic men. Interestingly, among Democratic women aged 18 to 49, belief in sexism rests between 71 and 72 percent. But as they get older, Democratic women become much more likely to notice contemporary barriers to women’s advancement. Seventy-eight percent of Democratic women aged 50 to 64 and 81 percent of those aged 65 and up think sexism is still around. (For one theory on why this might be the case, read Michelle Goldberg’s excellent piece on aging into support and empathy for Hillary Clinton.)

Older male Democrats were also more likely to believe in sexism than younger ones. Only 47 percent of Democratic men aged 18 to 34 agreed that significant sexism exists today. Among those aged 35 to 64, that proportion rose to about two-thirds. And of Democratic men aged 65 and over, 77 percent agreed that it’s still harder for women to get ahead than men. That’s 5 points more than young Democratic women!

Perhaps even more surprisingly, Republican men aged 65 and over were more likely than any other age group in their demographic to believe that sexism exists. That’s not saying much: Only 28 percent of Republican men in that demographic concede that sexism holds women back. Democratic men in all age groups are between two and three times more likely than their Republican counterparts to say there are still substantial roadblocks that hinder women’s progress. In other words, if you’re looking for a dude who’s a woke bae, this survey says the Young Republicans mixer—or the Old Republicans bingo night, for that matter—won’t make for a suitable dating pool.