Women Need to Be Encouraged to Be Leaders at an Early Age
About a third of Americans say a major reason there aren’t more women in top leadership positions in politics and business is because women are not encouraged to be leaders from an early age, a recent Pew Research Center survey found.
We also asked over 5,000 U.S. adults about their own experiences with leadership roles when they were growing up. Here’s what we found:
Which Americans took on leadership roles when growing up?
One-in-five adults say they took on leadership roles in their school or community extremely often or often, while 35% say they did so sometimes. More than four-in-ten (44%) say they rarely or never took on leadership roles when they were growing up.
Some demographic groups are more likely than others to say they took on leadership roles at least sometimes when they were growing up. These groups include:
- Men (59% did so at least sometimes)
- Asian and Black adults (66% and 65%)
- Adults younger than 50 (59%)
- Adults with a postgraduate degree (68%)
Men younger than 50 are the most likely to say they took on these roles at least sometimes (62%), while women ages 50 and older are the least likely to say this (48%).
Why didn’t some Americans take on leadership roles when growing up?
Of those who rarely or never took on these roles growing up, more than half (54%) say it was mainly because they didn’t want to. Another 19% say it was because there were no leadership opportunities. And 26% say it was mainly because of some other reason. (We did not ask them to explain.)
Men and women give similar answers to this question, but there are some differences by age. Adults under 50 who rarely or never took on leadership roles when growing up are more likely than those 50 and older to say it was mainly because they didn’t want to (60% vs. 48%). Those in the older group are more likely to cite some other reason (30% vs. 22%), while similar shares in both groups say there were no leadership opportunities available to them (17% among those under 50 and 21% among those 50 and older).