Chart of the Day: Americans are more accepting of progressive gender roles than ever

After a stagnating for a bit, there’s been an upswing in public support for progressive ideas about gender and work, according to a new analysis from the Council on Contemporary Families. 


As the chart shows, after a rapid shift in attitudes from the mid-70s to mid-90s, in the last couple decades “the trend toward acceptance of new gender roles stalled and even dipped.” But thankfully, we seem to be getting back on track:

Our latest analysis shows that since hitting their low points, and especially since 2006, there has once more been upward progress in the values associated with approval of new gender roles and relationships. After slipping from 62 to 58 percent between 1994 and 2000, the percentage of people disagreeing that it is better for men to earn the money and women to tend the home rose to an all-time high of 68 percent in 2012. Less than a third of Americans now say that a male breadwinner family is the ideal arrangement.

Strong majorities also agree that working women aren’t ruining their children and men and women are equally suited to politics these days.

The researchers are a little perplexed about what exactly has caused this shift. Though, on average, women are more egalitarian then men and liberals are more egalitarian than conservatives, the recent uptick can’t be explained by a growing gender gap or changes in political ideology. The dips and peaks over time have also been evident across education levels. The entrance of us Millenials might explain some of the progress. After all, we are the most egalitarian generation yet–though that’s not so terribly impressive considering every previous generation has had their chance to say the same thing.

But this recent uptick has taken place within all generations at roughly the same time, which suggests that something happened that affected everyone. Bryce Covert posits that maybe after decades of women working outside the home, it’s just because so normalized–and necessary–it’s no longer even a thing. “A working mother has not just become the norm,” she writes. “but a necessity for many.” I buy that, but until I hear another theory, I’m gonna go ahead and give some of the credit to the emergence of the feminist blogosphere.

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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