Ninety years ago, women were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment. One would think that 90 years would be enough time for society to progress and for gender inequalities to end. But gender equality is still a hot topic of debates and an unresolved political issue.
In June 2010, The Harris Poll surveyed 2,412 adults, including 341 LGBT adults, to measure the attitudes and beliefs of American adults about the roles of men and women in society. The survey was conducted with the help of Witeck-Combs Communications, a communications firm that specializes in LGBT issues. The survey results that were just released show a surprising link between sexual orientation and attitudes about gender inequalities.
Most Americans — specifically, 63% of American adults — believe that gender inequalities still exist in the United States. Around 74% of women think the U.S. has a long way to go to reach gender equality, compared to just over half of men (52%). Hardly surprising, considering that the most tangible and visible examples of gender inequality are typically inequalities that harm women.
What’s a little more surprising is that LGBT adults are much more likely to agree that the U.S. has a long way to go to reach gender equality. About 73% of LGBT Americans agree that the U.S. has a long way to go (10% more than the American population at large), along with a shocking 95% of lesbians.
The country is more split on the issue of whether or not things are fine between men and women. Just over half of Americans (52%) feel that things are not fine between the genders. But there’s a significant difference in each gender’s perception of the relationships between men and women; 55% of men believe things are fine, compared to only 32% of women.
LGBT people, again, notice more inequalities and conflict between genders than the heterosexual population. Only 22% of lesbians and 32% of gay men believe that things are fine between genders.
According to Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, “LGBT Americans, who most likely recognize the consequences of their own workplace and social inequities are especially sensitive to perceived discrimination in all forms. For gay Americans, these may be life lessons that mirror their own experiences — and demonstrate that the divide today between men and women remains as real as the evidence of unfair and unequal treatment still shown to women in public life.”
In other words, gender inequalities still exist, just some people remain blissfully unaware. While LGBT people are, for the most part, perceptive of the inequalities between genders, many straight men remain completely in the dark about gender inequalities.
The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing that there’s a problem to be fixed. Perhaps, the key to gender equality is educating people about gender inequalities in our society today. It’s great that 63% of American adults believe the U.S. has a ways to go before reaching gender equality, but it’s discouraging that the other 37% disagree.
Photo credit: Everfalling