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More than half of American men don’t feel “comfortable” with a female president

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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New research shows the shocking amount of Americans who aren’t “comfortable” with having a woman in the White House. They better get comfortable fast though, because the future of politics in the US is female. 

There are a record number of elected female politicians in the US. A woman holds the highest political office for a Democrat in the US. (House Speaker, and her name is Nancy Pelosi.) The frontrunner for the Democrat nomination in the 2020 elections is a woman. (Elizabeth Warren, and she’s got a plan to fix the US.)

So why, then, do less than half of American men feel “comfortable” with the idea of a female president?

According to new research conducted by Kantar and the Women Political Leaders, there’s a particular bias among Americans against women holding the country’s highest position of power. Though 60% of Americans felt “very comfortable” with the idea of a woman serving as CEO of a big company, only 54% of Americans – and that number includes women – felt the same about having a female president. When the survey looked at just the male respondents, that number fell to less than half. 

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“In the US, women came out absolutely tops as being viewed as suitable for corporate leadership,” said Dr Michelle Harrison, global CEO, public division, of Kantar. Compare that with the statistics around female presidents, and Harrison notes that there is “significant prejudice against the idea of female political leadership in the highest office.” 

Elizabeth Warren is campaigning to be the first female president in the US.

The research is fascinating, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking. We know that Americans, and in particular American men, have a problem with electing a female leader. They had a problem with electing one in 2016 when, even though Hillary Clinton had the more polished and experienced campaign, the senator lost the election to Donald Trump. Clinton was, incidentally, the first woman to run for president as part of a major party in the history of American politics.

But where does this research leave us now, in 2019, on the eve of the 2020 elections? A record number of women are running for the opportunity to stand for president next year, including Warren and Kamala Harris. And yet even though Warren is widely considered to be one of the best of the Democrat candidates, she’s still the victim of some pretty galling sexism.

Just last week, actually, Warren was asked at a campaign event how she hoped to get men to vote for her. (Nobody is asking male candidates these questions, by the way. Nobody is bounding up to Bernie Sanders and asking him how he hopes to secure the female vote.) 

“How about we give them a tough, smart woman to vote for?” Warren responded. “I’m out here every day trying to talk to people about [my campaign platform], trying to bring more people in the fight – but if you’ve got ideas… I was told what I needed to do was smile more.” Here, Warren cracked a sarcastic grin, while the audience broke into laughter and applause.

Hillary Clinton pictured on her last day of campaigning before the 2016 elections.

According to The Daily Beast, Warren is sitting number three in terms of polling, behind Sanders and Joe Biden. She is doing so despite the fact that she currently has the highest gender gap in her approvals ratings between men and women: there’s an 18% difference between the number of women who want to vote for her and the number of men. 18%! 

What that means, data-wise, is that for Warren to be holding such a high position in these polls at all she has to be, essentially, crushing it among female voters. Imagine how great her numbers would be if men felt more “comfortable”, to use that Kantar parlance, with the idea of her as president? 

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Kantar’s research has a revealed a glaring problem when it comes to women in politics. So what is the solution? Here’s another statistic: women who run for Congress are just as likely to get elected as men. The fact of the matter is that women aren’t going away. They’re going to keep standing for office and they’re going to keep making their voices heard. They’re going to fight to get elected and they’re going to push to make change. 

Don’t just believe us, believe Warren.

“The system is us,” she said at an event back in June. “It’s the woman in the back up there, the mum over here with the child. It’s all of us. And you tell your friend, if she’s worried, put her worry to work and get up off her butt and volunteer.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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