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Ideological divisions among the sexes caused by cultural shifts will have significant, if unknown impacts


Polling showing that Americans under 30 have expressed an ideological shift along gender lines—with males skewing hard to the right while females skewed hard to the left—has received much attention this week. While the numbers were surprising, they speak to a myriad of sociological issues that we should be discussing more broadly.

The survey data revealed a 30-point gap between young American males trending conservative and young American females trending liberal. Moreover, other wealthy democratic nations showed similar trends, with Germany also experiencing a 30-point gap and the U.K. showing 25 points, while South Korea’s gap was a whopping 40 points.

That sort of ideological difference among the sexes, particularly in the U.S., is all but certain to be related to other significant cultural shifts that have taken place in recent years. Perhaps most significantly, females have not only closed the education gap but have opened an advantage that continues to widen. Thanks in part to the passage of Title 9 in 1972, by 1980, males and females each earned 50 percent of four-year college degrees in the U.S.

By the 1990s, females had a slight lead. Today, a whopping 60 percent of those degrees are being earned by females. Again, this is partly because of equality advances. However, there is also evidence that skill sets more common to females are more advantageous in an educational system that continues to adapt toward a highly technical, post-industrial economy.

Moreover, because college-educated females are statistically far less likely to choose non-college-educated partners or lower wage earners than college-educated males, females under 30 are increasingly dating older men. As a result, survey data suggests that twice as many males as females between 20 and 30 are single.

These dynamics are all but certain to impact ideology, and they most likely also play a role in declining U.S. marriage and birth rates—each of which is more pronounced among college graduates. What’s more, it does not seem likely that any of these gaps will do anything but continue to widen going forward.

In some ways, the data suggests that we are experiencing a phenomenon comparable to that of the 1960s when the United States experienced what were arguably the most rapid and significant cultural shifts in its history. It is impossible to predict what that will mean for the next generation. Still, in a nation that has been so intensely divided over the past decade, it is hard to imagine that it will bring us closer together anytime soon.

Dennis "Mitch" Maley is an editor and columnist for The Bradenton Times and the host of our weekly podcast. With over two decades of experience as a journalist, he has covered Manatee County government since 2010. He is a graduate of Shippensburg University and later served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Click here for his bio. His 2016 short story collection, Casting Shadows, was recently reissued and is available here.


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  • Cat L

    An antidote to the "Manoshpere" would help. There is a direct informational pipeline of talking heads who are simultaneously fanning the flames of relational disfunction, real societal pain points and an unrealistic ideology of what the "good old days" looked like. At a certain point, that dynamic becomes intolerable and toxic to experience. And the rise of that "toxic masculinity" makes many women feel less safe, and therefore less inclined to participate.

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this

  • san.gander

    This is "sociologically" concerning. But of course, Sociology is not to be studied in Florida anymore. In the article, it's noted that young, less educated males cannot find "mates". Educated women are bypassing them for better choices. Thus, it may happen that the men in our society will react with real violence toward women... turn toward "taliban like" solutions.

    Of course, this means a full on attack on women's rights and citizenship. Already the right of a woman to make decisions about her own body because she is pregnant has been stiffled and ended in some places and efforts continue to make it everywhere. And the very fact that the Equal Rights Amendment has never passed is absolute evidence that men do not want women to have "equal rights"!

    What's next? How far will it go? Back to the Victorian era, when a female was the "responsibility of the male head of household"; practically property!

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this