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Studies Explore American Opinions about Women in Politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is photographed while being interviewed in Rockefeller Center, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in New York. The 28-year-old political newcomer who upset U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's Democrat primary on Monday says she brings an "urgency" to the fight for working families. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Studies Explore American Opinions about Women in Politics
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Researchers are noting changes in American public opinion on the issue of woman in politics.

A new study by the Pew Research Center tries to explore how Americans truly feel about the subject.

A new level of energy

Two years have passed since former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States.

In 2018, a record number of American women are seeking elected office. Also this year, more women than ever before have won major party primary elections for state governor, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The Associated Press reports that most of these female candidates support the policies of the Democratic Party. Some say they decided to enter politics because of President Donald Trump’s election and the Republican Party’s control of Congress. Others were influenced by the #MeToo movement and protest marches organized by and for women.

“We are seeing a level of enthusiasm among women voters that we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Laura Kelly, a Democrat. She is seeking to become governor in the state of Kansas.

Easier for men than women

Currently, women hold just about a fifth of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress. And six of the nation’s governors are women. Yet more than half of the U.S. population is female.

In a new study, the Pew Research Center found that a large majority of women (69 percent) are likely to say that too few women are politicians. Forty-eight percent of men agree.

The study noted that nearly two-thirds of Americans think it is easier for a man to get elected than a woman. One in four think that men and women have an equal chance, while only five percent think it is easier for women.

The Pew researchers also found that 61 percent of Americans think “women who run for office have to do more to prove themselves than men.” Seventy-two percent of women felt that way, compared to 48 percent of men.

Some Americans believe the country is not ready to elect women to higher office. Pew researchers said 57 percent of the women they questioned agreed with that statement, compared to 32 percent of men.

Political and gender differences

When Pew asked if gender discrimination was a reason for fewer women in politics, it found that younger women were more likely than older women to answer ‘yes’.

Sixty-eight percent of women under age 50 said ‘yes’, while 50 percent of those over age 50 agreed. Among men, there was little difference between younger and older men.

More than six in 10 Americans said women are better than men at showing concern. Forty-two percent said women are better at working out compromises, while 41 percent said women make better examples for children.

The Pew Research Center also found that Americans think men are more likely to have success in politics because they are more willing to take risks. The study found that being decisive, forceful and ambitious helps men, while women are seen as more approachable, better-looking and caring.

But most Americans did see benefits to having women in leadership positions. A majority said that having women in top positions in business and government would improve the quality of life at least somewhat for all Americans.

I’m Phil Dierking

Matt Hilburn wrote this story for Phil Dierking adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

ambitious - adj. having a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous​

approachable - adj. easy to talk to or deal with​

assertive - adj. confident in behavior or style​

benefit - n. a good or helpful result or effect​

enthusiasm - n. a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy​

gender - n. the state of being male or female