While female politicians are making headlines in the US, Europe and South America, seeing a woman in a position of power is still an uncomfortable idea for many. Female political candidates are subject to scrutiny that men rarely face, and even when they are in elected to power, the misogyny continues.
A recent survey of people between 18 and 35 years old by the World Economic Forum found that only 52% were very comfortable with a woman as president or prime minister. The results remained largely the same when broken out by gender. Only 55% of the millennial women globally were very comfortable with a female leader. Among millennial men, 47% were very comfortable with a woman holding the highest government office.
The team carrying out the survey at the World Economic Forum was surprised that millennials have an outlook it considers traditional and “still has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to gender parity,” said George Schmitt, lead, corporate affairs and foundations, public engagement at the World Economic Forum, who oversaw the survey. “In general, we were expecting a higher acceptance of female leaders from the respondents,” he said.
The team was also surprised to find that there was not much difference in how young people from different parts of the world answered the question. “While responses showed some regional differences, the overall perception of female leaders was roughly the same everywhere,” added Schmitt.
One possible reason for this uncertainty could be that a female political leader is still a rare thing. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, most countries have never had a female leader. Where female heads of state are present, they are still a fairly new phenomenon; half the countries with female heads of state have women running them for the first time. Perhaps it’s just a matter of trying something once?