US: Public opinions on women’s leadership progress
August 22nd, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

US: Public opinions on women’s leadership progress

Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) is a chance to celebrate the positive strides women have made to balance gender disparity in the workplace and refocus attention on why they continue to be in short supply at the top of business.

YouGov polled more than 12,000 US respondents to get their take on progress over the last decade on women’s leadership opportunities. We analyzed the data with a specific focus on the intersection between gender and key demographic identifiers, such as age and partisanship.

Here are some key findings of people's views on gender gains and gaps over the past 10 years.

1. The prevailing sentiment leans towards positive progress, but there’s skepticism among women about the degree of progress made

Overall, more than two-thirds (69%) of Americans believe the number of leadership positions held by women in the workplace has increased in the past 10 years. A significant share feels things have remained the same (15%) and few believe the trajectory of women’s leadership opportunities has gone backwards (4%).

But positive sentiment is tempered by perceptions of minute progress in women’s leadership opportunities. While 26% of US adults believe opportunities have increased ‘a lot’ for women, a plurality (44%) think they’ve increased by ‘a little’ over the last decade.

There’s a 10-point gap between the opinions of women and men on general progress (64% of women believe leadership opportunities for women have increased overall vs. 74% of men).

Again, the difference lies in perceptions of how much progress has been made. While a third (32%) of men believe opportunities have increased ‘a lot’, just a fifth (20%) of women say the same.

Women are also more likely than men to believe things have remained stagnant (17% vs. 13%).

2. Older men and women tend to hold more positive views on the advancement of leadership opportunities for women

We know gender differences abound, even within a specific gender group, older cohorts look at the situation in a different light compared to their younger counterparts.

For instance, we see a 16-point gap between men aged 45 and older and those 44 and under who believe the number of leadership opportunities for women have generally increased over the last decade (82% vs. 68%).

Similarly, older women aged 65 and over are more likely to feel the opportunities have improved for women leaders in the last 10 years (74% vs. 63% ages 64 and under; 11-point difference).

3. Republican men are the most likely to believe progress has been made in women’s leadership opportunities while independent women are least to be convinced

There are notable differences in views of progress at the intersection of gender and partisanship. Four in five (80%) Republican men believe opportunities for leadership among women have increased in the last decade and are more likely to feel this way compared to Republican women (70%), Democratic men (74%) and women (71%) and independent men (71%) and women (55%).

Independent women are the least likely to believe opportunities for leadership have increased for women in the past decade (55%) and a fifth (19%) say the situation remains unchanged, the most likely of any group.


This Daily Questions survey was conducted online on August 16-17th, 2023 among 12,637 U.S. adults. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party.

Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash