June 16, 2017

Suffragettes. Library of Congress. Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons.

Millennials. They’ve got their own color. They’re nicknamed “generation nice.” (And cheap.) They’re known for being liberal and inclusive. But new research might upend that assumption.

For 40 years, sociologists have been polling high school seniors about social issues. They’ve asked seniors whether they agree that it’s better for a family if the man makes all the important decisions. And the results are surprising.

In 1975, about 45 percent of students agreed that men should make all the important decisions. In 1995, that dropped to 30 percent. But in 2014, that number jumped back to almost 40 percent.

Are millennials becoming more socially conservative? Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, and Dan Cassino, associate professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University both think that the answer is complicated. But that we should pay attention to what’s going on.

Three Takeaways:

  • Kawashima-Ginsberg looked at millennial voting patterns and found a disparity between men and women. Two-thirds of women voted for Hillary Clinton while only 47% of men did. Is this surprising? Kawashima-Ginsberg says yes: “We’re talking about the generation of people who supported Barack Obama by two-thirds in 2008.”
  • Cassino conducted an experiment of his own. He asked men who they were voting for. But, before he asked the question to half of them, he reminded them that there are more and more households in which women make more money than men. The results? Disheartening. “The men who had been reminded about gender inequality and gender-role threat suddenly preferred Donald Trump,” says Cassino. “Trump got a twenty-point gain among those men. [But] when the matchup was between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, it didn’t make any difference at all.” 
  • Why the shift in high schoolers’ attitudes during the 1990s? According to Kawashima-Ginsberg, it might be because there aren’t a whole lot of women with lots of power. “There’s certainly been a halt in the progress,” she says. In the past twenty-five years, the number of women in politics has plateaued between 20 and 25 percent.

More Reading:

millennials, politics, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Dan Cassino

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