A new Pew Research study, conducted during March and April, confirms that age, education level, and political affiliation can indicate whether or not someone identities as a feminist.
Overall, 61% of women said that “feminist” describes them “very” or “somewhat well”. Across different age groups, the 18-29 cohort was most likely to identify as a feminist, whereas the 50-64 cohort was least likely to. In fact, a majority of women across generational and educational lines use the term to describe themselves.
Regarding education, having a bachelor’s degree or higher predicted higher feminist self-identification. Additionally, women who are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic party are 33% more likely to identify as feminists than their Republican/Republican-leaning counterparts at 75% vs 42%.
A related Pew Research study, also conducted during March and April, reveals that most Americans say gender equality is important, regardless of whether they identify as feminists or not. More specifically, 79% of adults believe “it is very important for women to have equal rights with men”. Within that category, 69% of non-feminists and 89% of feminists support the aforementioned statement. This indicates that a belief in gender equality goes beyond feminist identification. Many scholars contend that feminist values and principles – namely gender equality and empowerment – are increasingly accepted by society, regardless of the label “feminist”.
With this increased support for gender equality, comes another statistic – 28% of men believe the women’s gains in society have come at the expense of men. When looking at Republican/Republican-leaning men, this proportion increases to 38%. Similar to the first survey, education level and political affiliation indicate differences in these beliefs regarding gender equality. Nonetheless, 65% of all adults believe that the United States has made progress in gender equality and equal rights in the last 10 years.
It must be noted that all of these statistics and surveys exist within the context of the fact that 98% of Americans believe that gender equality is “very” or “somewhat important”. Women are slightly less optimistic than men about gender equality in America at 86% vs 93%, but still, it appears that more progress, and more feminism, are on the horizon.
Sources: Pew Research Center 7/6/20, Pew Research Center 7/14/20, Pew Research Center 7/7/20, Pew Research Center 4/30/20