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Do Americans prefer a male lawyer? A male president? Survey has the results


Americans say there aren’t enough women in positions of power in the workplace, but a majority still prefer men for some powerful professions, including lawyers, a new survey has found.

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents agreed that more women should be in positions of power, and 71 percent said they would be comfortable working or interacting with women lawyers, according to the Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults. However, when asked to choose which gender they preferred working or interacting with if forced to make a choice, 53 percent preferred male over female lawyers.

There were also gender differences for other powerful professions. When asked which gender they preferred, 59 percent of the respondents preferred a man as president; 72 percent preferred a male engineer; and 56 percent preferred a male Fortune 500 senior executive. But for traditionally female professions such as nursing and teaching, 93 percent preferred a female registered nurse and 87 percent preferred a female teacher.

“When asked to choose between men and women with whom they’d be most comfortable interacting or working with directly for various occupations, Americans still gravitate toward traditional gender roles,” the report concludes.

The survey was commissioned by Pershing, a company that provides financial business solutions. Another interesting survey finding: Older Americans were more comfortable with women in traditionally male professions.

“Conventional wisdom says that young people are more open to new ideas, while older individuals cling to traditional thinking. We found the opposite to be true—the older the age bracket, the greater the comfort with seeing women in traditionally male roles,” Pershing reports in their whitepaper, Americans Crave a New Kind of Leader - And Women Are Ready to Deliver. “What explains this unexpected result? As other research has shown, stereotypes can be broken down through real-life experiences with women in traditionally male occupations.”

The 2,047 respondents were chosen from a group of people 18 and older who agreed to participate Harris Interactive surveys, according to a press release.

Hat tip: New York Times’ DealBook.

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