Men in UK and U.S. seen growing less comfortable with women leaders

By Annie Banerji

Less than 50% of American men would be "very comfortable" with a female head of government, according to a survey that found men in Britain and the United States growing less comfortable with women in positions of power.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, launched in 2018 by a group of female politicians to look at attitudes towards women leaders in industry, government and other roles, found they had grown more negative in both countries in the past year.

In the United States, men's attitudes to female leaders in several areas of public life from politics to the judiciary grew more negative and just 49% of male respondents said they would be "very comfortable" with a woman as head of government.

In Britain, where a number of female lawmakers have dropped out of upcoming elections citing a rise in online trolling and other abuse, the number of male respondents who said men and women are equally suitable to lead fell.

Women's attitudes to female leaders, by contrast, remained consistently positive in both countries, creating a widening divide in opinion between genders, according to Kantar, the research company that conducted the survey of wealthy countries.

The growing gap could reflect "frustrations with former Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit dealings, and more polarised opinions in society more generally," said Michelle Harrison, global CEO of Kantar's Public Division.

"Similarly, in the U.S., the level of dissonance between the views of women and men has increased since 2018," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

"This may to an extent reflect a political and cultural shift in the USA, where high-profile women in politics, the media and entertainment and sport have seen increased misogyny directed towards them."

Researchers interviewed 22,000 people aged between 15 and 65 from July to September about how they felt about women leaders for the index.

The index was launched at the Women Leaders Global Forum, where hundreds of women political leaders gathered in Reykjavik in Iceland, the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women.

The latest survey identified Canada and France as the countries with the most equal attitudes towards women and men in leadership, while attitudes in Japan, Germany and Italy had grown more positive in the 12 months since the first survey.

The United Nations has made women's equal participation in politics by 2030 one of its global development goals, and it says more women in leadership also drives economic growth.

© Thomson Reuters Foundation

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Very disappointing. I just don't understand why men would judge an aspiring leader, political or otherwise, on the basis of their sex more than on any other more relevant criterion. Maybe it's the rhetoric of some of the more extreme feminists, maybe it's a discomfort with gender and identity politics generally, but I don't see why those things should have such an effect if people really are as smart as most of them think they are. They should be able to sort out the garbage from the realities.

In my own small world, as a worker my first boss was a woman, my most efficient and admirable boss was a woman, and my personal favourite boss was a woman (not the same women). Maybe that's the best way to learn that the sexes are truly equal.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Never had a woman boss but did work where women were in executive positions. It seemed to me that women had more issues with a woman as their boss than did the men. Maybe for politics it is different. I’d be perfectly OK with a woman as the top national leader.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The best boss I ever had was a woman. I learned more from her than any other boss I had.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You're supposed to be blind to gender, unless someone identifies as a different gender than their birth gender, then you're supposed to go out of your way to treat them as such.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I have had several women bosses and supervisors. Never had a problem with their leadership in terms of them being in a superior position to me even though we disagreed on some things. From an ability standpoint, it is a non-issue.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have a female boss, and I think she does a great job. My female co-workers, on the other hand, have had the daggers out for her since she started. They think that the way she communicates is too rough and direct. For me, though, it's great because I appreciate clarity of message without any politics or BS. She seems able to put that aside, but I worry it's taking a toll on her mental health.

Over the years I've had a bunch of female bosses, and the large majority were very good at what they did. Only 2 stick out as not suitable for management.

I think for most men, the issue is probably liberal, female leaders, the reason being that part of their message tends to be perceived as anti-male. Add identity politics to the mix, and you have a female candidate with very little appeal to the average male voter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm perfectly supportive of women in positions of power in politics, business, etc. I've had several female bosses and they've been great.

While I support equality for women in the business and political fields will women also be putting thier hands up for the hard and dirty jobs? Or will these be left to the men?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Says more about male insecurity than it does anything else...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think Britain is regressing as a country, "dumbing down" if you like. This survey result is just another example of this.

I now see British politics as below Japanese politics. I have no love for the LDP, but they do not take money from shady Russian businessmen. Shinzo Abe is not trying to sell of Japan's health system to US insurance companies. When US service people kill Japanese in road accidents, they are not allowed to fly home unpunished.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I've had two female Japanese bosses. Both were absolutely terrible. Boss #1 was a tough, cruel, harsh person all the time. Did not care for her workers as human beings. There was a very toxic atmosphere in the office - everyone fought and no one got along. I believe a lot of it stemmed from her. Boss #2 was completely incompetent, and everyone knew it. In order to make up for her incompetency, she conducted business in a very sneaky, non-transparent way. She told different stories privately to different people. Lots of back-stabbing, dishonesty, and "Don't tell anyone I told you this, but..." kind of things going on.

I'm not saying these problems were connected to their gender. Just saying that I'm 0-for-2 on female Japanese bosses.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I know of only one culture even remotely well where female leaders are common, and in fact, the women rule literally everything. Its some remote culture in China and all the men do is drink and gamble. They cannot even own land. There others with female leadership but they are small.

Its almost laughable that anyone ever thought they could buck that human trend without righteous application of the law of negative returns. Yes, we can train masses of women to be leaders totally against their grain, but at what price?

Yes, some women are good leaders and bosses. I have seen and had quite a few. But you also have these horrible ones, such as Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher that should seriously give you pause.

Everyone just needs to stop questioning gender and only question the person. There are always going to be a minority of great women leaders but that's just fine. The best person for the job. That's all you need to worry about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

years ago, i would say that people,s skepticism regarding women being in powerful positions had to do with women,s inferiority complex ( women vs men ), but nowadays i don,t think there,s any reason not to trust women with power. whether in politics or in a workplace, i believe it ,s all about the individual, and not the gender.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That is not my experience. More than 1/2 of US voters voted for HC for president. I have had many bosses who were women, no problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One female boss in my life. Rich fat husband married the town princess(in mind, not body) both late 30’s, he forked over the money to buy the state franchise rights for a new pizza corp (terrible pizza BTW), and the starter store, and she was in charge. She ran off with the pizza delivery boy. Lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Worst couple bosses I ever had were men. I've only had a few female bosses, but they aren't near the bottom.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A bit understandable from the small minded as the last female to lead Britain wasn't exactly great was she.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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