Women in Leadership and the Party Gap

Julie Gunlock

A new Pew poll has found that a majority of Americans would like to see more women in leadership positions in business and politics. What’s particularly interesting is the gap in this opinion between Republicans and Democrats. In fact, that gap was more pronounced than the gap between men and women.

For example, while there is a 21-percentage-point gap in the share of women (69%) and men (48%) saying there are too few women in high political offices, there is a 46-point gap between Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (79% say there are too few women in these positions) and Republicans and those who lean Republican (33%). A majority of Republicans (57%) say there is currently the right number of women in these positions; just 17% of Democrats share this view.

Interestingly, both Democratic and Republican women are more likely than their male counterparts to say there are too few women in leadership. Some 44% of Republican women think there are too few women in high political offices, compared with 24% of Republican men. Among Democrats, majorities of men (73%) and women (84%) say there are too few women in these positions.

Observations of my own friends shows exactly this sort of breakdown on the enthusiasm meter of political candidates.

My left-leaning female friends show a great deal of excitement at the thought of a female candidate and often bemoan the fact that a woman hasn’t held the highest political office. In fact, a few of my left-of-center friends admitted to loathing Hillary Clinton but said “it’s just time” when pressed on the reason they were voting for her (many also just voted against Trump, which is understandable since many voted for Trump as an “anything but Hillary” protest).

Yet, in deeper conversations that I’ve had with my left-leaning friends, it’s clear that they feel only a women can adequately represent their interests. This is in stark contrast to many of my right-of-center friends who tend to not care so much for the gender of the candidate (they might be pleased, but it has no bearing on their vote), seem less suspect of men, and feel men can look out for women's needs as well as any female politician (Marco Rubio introducing the paid leave bill being an excellent example).

Another factor might be that, in my experience, my right-leaning friends tend not to only focus on "women's issues" as defined by the left (abortion, paid leave policies, sexual harassment, violence against women) but rather focus on more general issues like the economy, tax reform, jobs, health care, regulatory reform, education, viewing these issue as important for all Americans, not just one gender.

 



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