Feminism’s Popularity Reaches All Time Highs, Study Shows

A new Pew Research study shows a clear majority of women, across all ages and education levels, identify as feminists. Overall, 61 percent of female respondents said “feminist” describes them “very” or “somewhat well.” 

Feminism  Popularity Reaches All Time Highs, Study Shows
Women’s March in New York City in January 2017. (astoller / Flickr)

The group most likely to identify as feminist was among women ages 18-29, at 68 percent. The 50-64 cohort was least likely to, at 57 percent—nevertheless, still a healthy majority. 

In terms of education, having a bachelor’s degree or higher drove higher feminist self-identification—72 percent, versus high school-educated at 54 percent. 

Additionally, feminist identification plays a role in political party affiliation: Women who are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic party are significantly more likely to identify as feminists than their Republican or Republican-leaning counterparts—75 percent, compared to 42 percent.

This further reinforces the “feminist factor,” identified by Ms. after the 2012 elections, which indicates those who vote or lean Democrat are much more likely to identify as feminists.

In addition, a majority of Americans (64 percent) say feminism is empowering, and 42 percent see it as inclusive. Nevertheless, although a majority of both men and women consider feminism to be “empowering,” a majority of men (52 percent) consider it to also be “polarizing.” 

Despite the anti-feminist movement and right-wing media’s deliberate and persistent demonization of feminists and feminism, their efforts to discredit the feminist movement appear to not be discouraging women, especially college-educated women—Seventy-six percent of whom maintain that feminism is empowering.


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A related Pew study, also conducted during March and April, reveals that most Americans say gender equality is important. More specifically, 79 percent of adults believe “it is very important for women to have equal rights with men.” Among those who consider themselves feminists, 89 percent support this statement.  But even among those who don’t identify as feminists, 69 percent advocate for gender equality and equal rights.

However, 28 percent of men believe the women’s gains in society have come at the expense of men. Republican or Republican-leaning men are most likely to hold this view, at 38 percent. 

Nonetheless, 65 percent of all adults—and a majority of adults in both political parties—believe the United States has made progress in gender equality and equal rights in the last 10 years.

Overall, 98 percent of Americans believe that gender equality is “very” or “somewhat important.” 


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About

Katarina Watson is a rising senior at Georgetown University, studying Women’s and Gender Studies and Biology, with plans to become an ob/gyn. She is on the education team at FMF, and is conducting a long-term research project on racial disparities in maternal health. She is passionate about reproductive justice, Title IX and good coffee.