College Women Are Feminists, Her Campus Survey Says, Along With Other Encouraging Findings
College campuses have long been incubators of feminism, and nowadays, given all the hurdles that women are facing in the twenty-first century, we need that more than ever. Fortunately, the Her Campus survey has some good news about the future of feminism. According to the survey, a majority of women in college identify as feminists, which is pretty awesome.
Her Campus surveyed 3,135 college women between the ages of 17 and 23 from all regions of the United States; the respondents also represented students at public, private, and community colleges. The survey found that among these women, 78.3 percent identify as feminist — which is pretty great when you consider that among the adult population as a whole, only 23 percent of women identify as feminist according to a HuffPo/YouGov poll.
So is this a sign that feminism is gaining ground? Or is it an indication of how many women lose their feminist ideals after college? Probably a bit of both. After all, in a lot of ways it's easier to be a feminist in college — you're young and idealistic and engaged with the world, and there are plenty of like-minded people around. But I think it's also true that, especially with the rise of the Internet and online feminist communities, feminism is becoming more common for women of all ages.
So what else can this survey tell us about today's college women and feminism? Here are seven key takeaways:
1. Feminism vs. "Equality"
According to the poll, women in college often make the mistake that people everywhere seem to make, saying they are for gender equality but not for feminism. Overall, 97.5 percent of women in the survey said they believe in gender equality, and among college women who do not identify as feminist, 56.6 percent say they believe in equality of the sexes, but not the principles of feminism. But considering the literal definition of feminism is "The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men," that sort of makes no sense. Gender equality is built into that definition. But at least most college women are aware that feminism isn't "anti-men"; only five percent identify it as such.
2. College Really Does Make You Feminist
The poll shows that about 57 percent of women surveyed identified as feminist before college, which is already encouraging, but once in college, that number goes up to 78.3 percent. In fact, among all the women in the survey, 26 percent became feminists in college, and only 1.3 percent were feminists before college but now aren't. So college is still a pretty good incubator of feminism, it seems.
3. Reproductive Rights Are a Go!
Despite the fact that women's reproductive rights are still a subject of debate in national politics, for most college women, they seem to be a no brainer. Among women in the survey, 74.2 percent say women should have access to safe and legal abortions, with 15.3 percent saying it depends. Only 7.9 percent of the women surveyed said women shouldn't have abortion access. And birth control was even more popular — 80 percent of college women said free birth control should be part of health care coverage.
4. Female President Is a Go!
College women today say they wouldn't vote for a candidate just because of their gender, but they do very much want a female president. About two thirds of women in the survey say it bothers them that there hasn't been a female president yet, but about 70 percent think that there will be a female president some time during the next 20 years. And even though the survey was conducted before Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy for president, 40 percent said they would vote for her, with another 40 percent undecided.
5. Representation Is A... Not Go
College women might be feminist, but they don't feel like the wider world is. 68.7 percent say that feminist opinions are not well-represented in the media and 72.9 percent say they aren't well-represented in film and television. Among celebrities, a small majority think feminist views are well-represented (thanks no doubt to celebrities like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Aziz Ansari, and others), but politics is even worse. A whopping 82.8 percent of women in the survey say that feminist views are not well-represented in politics, which sounds about right — and is pretty scary when you think about it.
6. Sexism Is Still a Thing
Unsurprisingly, college women are aware that sexism is still a thing. 67 percent say they have experienced sexism, and among feminists, 55 percent have received backlash from calling themselves feminists, mostly from male friends. Women are also aware that the wage gap exists, that only five percent of CEOs are women, and that things are generally not all that equal in today's world.
7. But Equality IS Possible
And yet today's college women are still hopeful. 78.4 percent say that feminism is making a difference in the world (over 90 percent of whom think that's a good thing), and 70 percent say gender equality will be possible within their lifetime.
Keep it up, college ladies!
You can find even more results from the survey here.
Images: Giphy (5)