Has U.S. Reached the Level of Gender Equality?

Three in five Americans say U.S. has long way to go to reach gender equality, according to a recent poll. And seven in ten Americans say women often do not receive the same pay as men for doing exactly the same job.

In 1920, 144 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, women in the United States were given the right to vote.

Ninety years later gender equality is still discussed and debated. When it comes to whether things are fine between men and women, the nation is split – just over half of Americans (52%) disagree that things are fine between the genders while 43% say things are fine.

But men and women have a different take on the situation with over half of men (55%) believing things are fine compared to just one-third (32%) of women who say the same.

Even more Americans (63%) agree that the U.S. still has a long way to go to reach complete gender quality. While three-quarters of women (74%) agree with this, so do just over half of men (52%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,227 adults surveyed online between June 14 and 21, 2010 by Harris Interactive. The results were released today, August 16.

Whether the issue of gender equality should be addressed is another question in these times with so many other pressing issues, the poll believes.

It says three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) agree that they do not think gender equality is perfect, but there are more pressing issues to fix first. And men and women are in agreement on this (74% of men agree as do 75% of women).

One of the discrepancies the Equal Rights Amendment was hoping to correct was inequality in the workplace among men and women. But seven in ten Americans (69%) say that women often do not receive the same pay as men for doing exactly the same job.

Three in five U.S. adults (62%) agree that women are often discriminated against in being promoted for supervisory and executive jobs. Women are much more likely than men to agree with this but almost half of men also agree with both sentiments.

Four in five women (80%) agree that women often do not receive the same pay for the same job compared to 58% of men, and 75% of women agree women are discriminated against in their promotions compared to 48% of men.

Half of Americans (50%) say women often receive lower pensions or pay more on annuities than men doing the same work while 23% disagree with this and 27% are not at all sure. And it’s not just with pay that there are issues.

More Americans believe women often have much more trouble than men in getting credit, bank loans and mortgages (42% agree with this while 36% disagree) and that women are often discriminated in the insurance rates they pay (38% agree; 33% disagree).

But it isn’t all bad, the poll says. Over half of Americans (52%) say most employers are willing to make the conditions of work flexible enough to help women with families who want to go to work. Again, there is a gender difference here as three in five men (60%) agree with this compared to less than half of women (46%).

Moreover, four in five Americans (81%) and four in five men and women (81% for both) say women today are treated with less chivalry than in the past.

Harris Interactive is a leading custom market research firm.

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Rakesh Raman