The majority of men reject the idea that women face obstacles, but it is young men, in particular, who doubt that sexism exists or is a problem at all. It’s not birth year so much as experience that leads men to better understand what is happening to women. A similar pattern can be seen, for example, in police officer acceptance of rape myths. Officers with between one and seven years of experience working on sex crimes believe up to 50% of women are lying when they report rape. That number drops to 10% beyond eight years.
This is particularly true among men who identify as Democrats. Republican men, whose identities are most closely bound by gender norms, demonstrate the least flexibility over time. Whereas 53% of younger Democratic men say that sexism is dead and gone, only 23% of men 65 or older doubt that sexism is a force. This is a monumental drop and a stark contrast to the 72% of Republican men age 65 and older who say the same. For conservative men, the learning curve is less extreme and more erratic. The percentage that doubt sexism slightly increases between ages 24-64, from 76% of men ages 18-24 to 78%, then drops again to 72% after age 65.
Why are young men convinced that sexism is meaningless when girls and women are saying that it is not? There is a marked gender gap at every age, regardless of whether people are conservative or progressive.
Young men think sexism is a thing of the past because that’s what we’ve allowed them to think and, in some cases, actively taught them.
Hostile sexism may have decreased during the past half century, but both overt sexism and implicit biases with sexist effects are on vivid and regular display. Most teenagers, for example, don’t know that the top job for women today is what it was in 1960, secretary, or that men make up more than 80% of Congress, 75% of corporate executive officers, 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 73% of tenured professors, 64% of newsroom staffers, 97% of heads of venture capital firms, and 87% of police departments. Few students are exposed to vital information about gender disparities in safety, violence, leadership, economic divides, health, or wealth. It is not until they get older that they have to process what it means that 75% of low-wage workers are women or thathealth care research continues to universalize white male bodies. Information like this, when it comes, is a rude shock, one that hits people, most frequently, in personal difficulty and, often, pain., 85% of