When the United States ratified the Nineteenth Amendment that granted women’s suffrage a century ago, the ripple effects of the watershed law extended into broader freedoms and advancement for womankind.
A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that women’s suffrage helped spur educational investment and equality, boosting attainment especially among Blacks and Southern whites.
A hundred years and several generations later, nearly half of Americans cite the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment as the most important milestone in elevating the position of women in the country. Other landmark cases and legislation that followed opened doors for women in education and the workplace.
But Americans are split on whether or not women have come far enough or if there is further to go in achieving gender equality, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
“We do see this deep partisan divide and how people think about the current state of gender equality,” Ruth Igielnik, senior researcher at Pew Research Center, told Cashay about the current polarization of the women’s movement. “There was an interesting difference between more educated Americans and less-educated Americans in people pointing to this as the most important milestone.”
The varying degrees of education among women— who eclipse the enrollment numbers of their male classmates at institutions of higher learning— contributes to a widening bipartisan issue among the advancement or regression of gender equality.
Over three-quarters of Democrats responded that there’s still work to be done in establishing gender equality, while 19% say it’s been about right, and only 4% criticize the government for going too far.
On the other hand, a third of Republicans say the country hasn’t made enough progress and 48% say it’s been about right, while 17% say the country has gone too far in giving women equal rights with men.
About four in 10 Americans said feminism has helped them personally, but the combination of race, party, and education— particularly white, educated Democratic women— were among the most likely to say that feminism benefited them personally.
One issue that Americans can agree on when they cast aside differences of gender and politics, is that progress, of any kind, has been made in the last ten years, according to the data.
Of the three-quarters of Americans who say more needs to be done on the gender equality front, they point to sexual harassment, women not having the same legal rights as men, and different societal expectations as three top issues that must be tackled next.
In the workplace, equal pay is overwhelming cited as the marker for gender equality, according to Pew’s survey. Survey respondents cited less hiring/promotion discrimination, being valued or respected the same as male colleagues, and better paid family leave to a much lesser extent.
The recent and demonstrable gains have narrowed—but not fused— the gender pay gap, according to Pew Research. Data points to younger women (ages 25 - 34) earning 89 cents to a man’s dollar, which is higher than the 85 cents working women of all ages report earning compared to men.
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