Global Council for Tolerance and Peace

Feminist Attitudes and Support for Gender Equality: Opinion Change in Women and Men, 1974–1998

By Catherine I. Bolzendahl, Daniel J. Myers – December 2004


This article examines attitudes related to feminism and gender equality by evaluating the trends in, and determinants of, women and men’s attitudes from 1974 to 1998. Past accounts suggest two clusters of explanations based on interests and exposure. Using these, we examine opinions on abortion, sexual behavior, public sphere gender roles, and family responsibilities. We find that attitudes have continued to liberalize and converge with the exception of abortion attitudes. The determinants of feminist opinion vary across domains, but have been largely stable. While not identical, the predictors of men and women’s opinions are similar. The results suggest the need for more attention to the mechanisms underlying the production of feminist opinions and theoretical integration of both interests and exposure in a dynamic process.

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