Does Gender Equality Exist? Republican Men Sure Think So (But Just Ask Democratic Women)

A new Pew Research Center study found that most Americans believe “there are still significant obstacles that make it harder for women to get ahead than men." But that's not true of most Republicans. Shown here, a female office worker writes a letter circa 1950s. George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

Gender equality has been achieved! Well, that depends on whom you ask. Most Americans would disagree, but you're more likely to hear that women don't face major difficulties in getting ahead than men do if you ask a man, even more likely if you ask a Republican and most likely if you ask a Republican man. Raise your hand if you are surprised. Anyone?

Overall, most Americans (55 percent) believe there are "significant obstacles" blocking womens' progress while 42 percent think those barriers "are now largely gone," according to a wide-ranging study from the Pew Research Center.

However, there is a significant gender gap and an even more significant partisan divide in Americans' views on this question.

Most women (64 percent) agree that the economic and social playing fields are not level while 34 percent believe that gender equality has arrived. But a minority of men (46 percent) think womens' paths are still difficult in society, while 51 percent are convinced those obstacles are largely gone.

The contrast is even more stark when you look at the responses along party lines. A large majority of Democratic respondents (73 percent) say women still face hurdles while only 34 percent of Republicans believe gender barriers still exist. Unsurprisingly, Democratic women and Republican men have the strongest disagreement on the question: 79 percent of Democratic-leaning females see gender inequality, and 70 percent of Republican-leaning men think there isn't a problem.

The Pew study, published on Thursday, comes at a time when the gender pay gap, though smaller than it once, still persists. In a recent report, the Institute for Women's Policy Research found a 19.5 percent pay gap between women and men who work full-time and year-round, and predicted that if the annual earnings ratio continues to change at the same rate as it has since 1960, the gap won't close until 2059. The "Women in the Workplace 2016" report from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. found that women are less likely to be promoted than men, are more likely to face resistance when they negotiate for a raise, receive less feedback and get less access to senior leaders.

Pew's research was released the same day The New York Times published its investigation into Harvey Weinstein, reporting that the influential Hollywood producer and executive had paid off at least eight settlements related to sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact allegations during his career. He's not the only high-profile man whose treatment of women in professional contexts has recently been called into question. There was Roger Ailes and just within the last few weeks Harry Knowles and Andy Signore.

A study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2016 found that "nearly three-quarters of our respondents thought that the female partners in heterosexual couples should be responsible for cooking, doing laundry, cleaning the house and buying groceries," lead author Natasha Quadlin wrote. "Regardless of the partner's relative income or gendered hobbies and interests, our respondents gravitated toward the person's sex instead."

To summarize, women are paid less, have a harder time getting promotions and raises, suffer harassment and are still expected to do much of the work at home regardless of the work they do at the office. Now, should we ask the question again?