Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Detroit on Super Tuesday, March 3. (Seth Herald/APF/AFP via Getty Images)
Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Detroit on Super Tuesday, March 3. (Seth Herald/APF/AFP via Getty Images)

There were a record-breaking six female candidates in the field when the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination began. When Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts suspended her campaign after a disappointing Super Tuesday showing, that left only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who did not qualify for the most recent Democratic debate and picked up only one delegate in Tuesday’s voting. This turn of events has renewed the discussion of gender in politics. We asked Americans in a 2018 Pew Research Center survey for their views about the state of female leadership in the United States and the obstacles women face. Most of these facts are drawn from that survey.

  • In 2018, 59% of U.S. adults said there were too few women in high political offices, including 69% of women and 48% of men who said this. Most Democratic women (84%) and Democratic men (73%) shared this view.
  • About three-quarters of women (74%) and 60% of men said it was easier for men to get elected to high political office. Large majorities of Democratic men and women agreed on this.
  • Roughly six-in-ten Americans (61%) said a major reason why there were fewer women than men in high political office was because women had to do more to prove themselves than men. Women were more likely than men to cite this as a reason (72% vs. 48%).
  • About half of Americans (52%) said a major reason why there were fewer women than men in higher political office was because women got less support from party leaders.
  • A similar share of U.S. adults (49%) said gender discrimination was a major reason why there were fewer women than men in high political offices, including 59% of women and 36% of men who said this.
  • And 45% of U.S. adults overall – including 57% of women – said many Americans not being ready to elect a woman to higher office was a major reason why there were fewer women than men in these positions. The share of women holding this view grew from 41% in 2014 to 57% in 2018, while the share of men who thought this stayed about the same.
  • In a separate 2018 Center survey, 45% of Americans said they personally hoped a female president would be elected in their lifetime. More women (51%) than men (38%) said they hoped this. Regardless of how they personally felt about it, majorities of Democrats and Republicans agreed that there would likely be a woman in the White House in their lifetime.