The report asked respondents to measure eight leaderships traits, including intelligence, honesty, compassion, and creativity. Both the men and women surveyed consistently ranked women higher than men for many of these traits.
70% of those surveyed also said that both genders were equally capable of being political leaders.
However, here's where things take a turn south.
Only 6% of those surveyed said women make better leaders. 21% said men were the better leaders. Keep in mind that men and women held these views almost equally and only a few more men than women thought men made the better leaders.
Why are women doubting their own gender's ability to lead better than men?
Yes, women have made tremendous gains in both politics and business. This country almost witnessed the nomination of its first female presidential candidate. Women head several major companies, including Xerox and Kraft Foods. And yet sexism is endemic in our culture. Women are not given equal pay for equal work. The Fair Pay Act, which would guarantee it by law, is held up in Congress. They earn .77 cents for every dollar earned by men doing the exact same job, even though more women are enrolled in college than men, and receive better grades than men. And the Lilly Ledbetter case demonstrates how difficult it is for women who dare to challenge pay discrimination in the workplace.
Sadly, according the the Pew report, it's mainly the women of my mother's generation who see the need for more social change to ensure women are given equal rights. Apparently, women my age are more complacent, or don't see how sexism impacts their lives. Unfortunately, the results of this survey show the impact of these beliefs.
Until women are guaranteed equal pay for equal work, until this country stops dissecting the wardrobe choices, hairstyles, and family decisions of women vying for top political positions, and until women in high-ranking leadership roles are more than an anomaly, our sisters, aunts, daughters, and granddaughters will continue to believe that men make better leaders than they do.
As a woman and a feminist, these survey results were quite the wake-up call.