Despite all their anger, men still trust institutions more than women do

Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Image: Reuters/Leah Millis
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From the election of Donald Trump to the Brexit referendum, in many cases the face of the anti-establishment, populist backlash in recent years has been male. Rabble-rousing nationalists have garnered support by tapping the resentments of men over their perceived loss of status in society and anger over the supposed slights against them by government, business, and the media.

It seems to follow, then, that men’s trust in institutions is low.

But let’s put things in perspective. For nearly 20 years, public-relations agency Edelman has been measuring public trust in people and institutions. Its latest survey, which polled more than 33,000 people in 27 countries, found that, on every dimension, men say they trust institutions more than women do.

Skepticism about whether institutions can be trusted “to do what is right,” as Edelman phrases the question, is markedly more pronounced among women, across the board.

The scale and scope of women’s discontent with the status quo has become apparent to all—or more accurately, to men—via the huge crowds that have shown up to Women’s March events and taken part in other movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp. The sweeping Democratic takeover of the US House of Representatives in last year’s midterm elections also demonstrated the political power of women.

Edelman’s report is timed to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the global elite in Davos, Switzerland. The forum itself has a problematic reputation among women, as it happens, given how few are invited as delegates. This year, 22% of delegates are women, up marginally from 21% last year and 15% five years ago.