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Gender Equality in the Workplace: DDB Life Style Study Spotlight

International Womens Day on March 8th will be observed through both

organized events and informal activities in many countries around the world.
This will be a day to celebrate women, their accomplishments, and the
progress that has been made towards gender equality. It will also be a day to
raise awareness about the discrimination and violence against women that
persist to this day in far too many places. In recognition of this event, we
thought it opportune to examine attitudes about women, specifically
attitudes related to women in the workplace, with data from the 2014 DDB
Life Style Study.
It is worth noting as context that although we live in a time when it is
assumed in the United States that women enjoy equal rights with men, the
fact is there is no federal legal protection against sex discrimination. The
Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been made part of the US
Constitution. In fact, the constitutions of only 23 US states provide some
measure of guarantees of equal rights on the basis of gender.
Legislative milestones such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which
President Obama signed into law when he first took office in 2009, have
made it easier for workers in general, and women specifically, to challenge
unequal pay. This was a major victory in the battle against gender
discrimination in the workplace and clearly reflects the belief held by a
significant majority of Americans that men and women who do the same job
should receive equal pay. Indeed our DDB Life Style Study data indicates
that 95% of US adults 18+ agree with this view.
It is in disappointing contrast then to know that the majority of US adults
also believe that discrimination against women in the workplace happens a
lot, with 70% of men and a significantly higher 86% of women in
agreement, and only the reciprocal minority believing such discrimination
only happens rarely.
In the same vein, 55% of Americans believe that women have fewer
opportunities in the workplace than men. When we consider both gender and
age effects on this total, there is a significant impact for both. As example,
69% of Boomer women believe women have fewer opportunities in the
workplace than men, while only 52% of Boomer men would agree. The
same pattern holds when examining attitudes within gender for both

Millennials and GenXers, and, surprisingly, when comparing Millennial

women, for whom 57% agree, with Boomer women.
Millennials simply have not been in the work force as long, says Denise
Delahorne, SVP, Group Strategy Director of DDB US, and so the
likelihood is less that they or someone they know have had an opportunity
denied where gender might have been a factor.
Consistent with majority beliefs about rampant discrimination and lack of
opportunity for women in the workplace is the view that the bar is set much
higher for women to achieve professional success. Women are significantly
more likely than men to believe that a woman has to be a superstar to get
to the top of her profession while a man just has to be above average. 61%
of women hold this view compared to 39% of men. Across generations, our
data indicates that Boomer women are significantly more likely to believe
this than their GenX and Millennial counterparts.
Finally, when we consider attitudes about leadership, there is a definite
gender bias against women. 36% of men believe men are naturally better
leaders than women while only 17% of women would agree. In perhaps the
most telling barometer of this sentiment, 29% of men indicate they think the
President of the United States should be a man. More surprising, 21% of
women also share this view.
One can only wonder how US attitudes might have evolved had the Equal
Rights Amendment passed in 1979, and bringing with it social change and
cultural condemnation of gender discrimination. International Womens Day
is an opportunity to shine a light on gender equality around the world and at
home, bringing renewed scrutiny and dialogue to an issue worthy of our
The DDB Life Style Study is the nations longest running and largest
longitudinal study of attitudes and behaviors. Conducted annually since
1975, the sample is balanced to the US Census on gender, age, and race.
This proprietary survey, with its 600+ questions, enables DDB to provide
exceptional insight into American consumer attitudes and behaviors. The
2015 study was fielded in January 2015, and the data cited here are from a
sample of 2860 US Adults. 2015 DDB Worldwide Communications Group