Our Ideological Split: How Gen-Z’s Women and Men are Growing Increasingly Apart

6 mins read

Since 2014, women between the ages of 18 and 29 have steadily become more liberal each year, while young men have not. This pattern has become a phenomenon in nearly all developed democracies across the globe, with young women consistently diverging ideologically from their male peers. 

Even in the heart of the Bay Area, one of the most liberal places in the U.S., this political divide has become noticeable across M-A’s campus. 


Many first point to recent polarizing events such as the #MeToo movement and the overturning of Roe in 2022 as a cause of the growing divide. In 2022, abortion was the number one voting issue for 61% of women, but only 32% of men. 

The rise in social media amplifies these issues by allowing users to share their ideas with larger audiences. Social media also increases the presence of echo chambers, where algorithms curate information to users’ interests, limiting their exposure to opposing ideas. Some examples of growing gendered community forums and groups include r/Mensrights#NotAllMenr/FemaleDatingStrategy, and South Korea’s 4B Movement.

Social media also served as a catalyst for the rise in cultural entrepreneurs, or influencers––like Donald Trump and Andrew Tate––who, according to Stanford researcher Alice Evans, “capitalize on new technologies by building echo chambers” that create spaces to generate “animosity, shaming and vilification.” 

These figures take advantage of the growing global trend of zero-sum sentiments, which is directly correlated with decreased generational economic wealth. Zero-sum sentiments create the false idea that one side must suffer so the other can benefit, and the existence of this mentality could potentially explain why some may jump to blame the other gender as responsible for their own suffering. 

Notable cultural entrepreneurs include Andrew Tate, a pronounced right-wing figure who gained his platform by appealing to insecure male audiences, capitalizing on traditional masculine ideals, and degrading women. (You can read more about the M-A Chronicle’s reporting on toxic masculinity here.) In 2023, Tate posted on his Twitter, “Men are not designed to be comfortable. They want to achieve. They want to feel pain and suffering. They want to conquer something.” Tate was also featured on Fox News numerous times––once for a two-and-a-half-hour interview with Tucker Carlson, proclaiming his innocence after human trafficking and rape allegations. Just two months after the interview, he was arrested.

Former President Donald Trump is also known for capitalizing on male vulnerabilities. An analysis by the Washington Post found that Trump “boasts about the size of his penis on national television” and “releases records of his high testosterone levels,” using his machismo behavior to appeal to a large audience of male voters who feel overlooked by progressive liberal ideals. (You can read more about the M-A Chronicle’s reporting on the harms of patriarchy on men here.) His election also unified women who felt angered at the promotion of a figure who bragged about sexual assault. 

The difference between Trump’s approval ratings from men and women reached a historic all-time high of 22%. 52% of men voted for him in 2016’s election, compared to only 39% of women. 

Inversely alongside the male exodus from the Democratic party––in which the number of Democratic males has decreased from 55% in 2008 to 38% in 2020––is an even larger number of women becoming increasingly liberal. 30% of women ages 18-29 identified as liberal from 1999-2013, and this grew to 44% in 2020. The election of strongly anti-abortion Ronald Reagan in 1980, whose supporters opposed the Equal Rights Amendment and generated a largely traditional and Christian voter base, started the Republican Party’s major shift away from attracting female voters.

The rise in the number of single, young working women also contributes to the divide––68% of these women voted for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections. Young women are more present on social media and are also becoming more educated than men––a direct correlation towards voting more liberally.

Potential Implications

While it may be difficult to come to a clear conclusion on the direct causes of this divide along gender between youth, one thing is clear: polarization is becoming noticeable in high school classrooms. Students of varying backgrounds face the pressure to be “politically correct” and are increasingly unwilling to engage with others’ opinions.

“The bigger thing that I’ve noticed has to do with students wanting a sanitized environment––not wanting to read certain literature or only wanting to read certain literature,” English teacher Lisa Otsuka said. 

“I personally am a conservative––I’m not a Trump fan, but I definitely hold on to conservative values as a Catholic,” an anonymous conservative male student said. “I don’t think that conservative values in this school or this area are tolerated, and I think that there’s absolutely pressure, either by the staff and the teachers here or just our peers to always hold these values that inform liberal or progressive views.”

“I noticed during in-class political conversations, I am more likely to hear from female students who want to discuss topics that relate to patriarchy,” social studies teacher Stephanie Cuff-Alvarado said. 

“I see some liberal male students sharing their ideas, but I noticed a lot of male students remaining quiet in class,” Cuff-Alvarado added. “And that’s not necessarily because they have the most conservative ideas, but maybe that they have some reticence to wade into those waters, to ask questions that may not be popular, or to be in the middle on things.”

“I would assume that there is some pressure for students to conform to liberal values. I also think that the concentration of progressive ideals where we live that could also result in people being more firm if they see things a different way, and being more vocal about it,” former M-A gender and social studies teacher Anne Olson said. “There’s a kind of fear of a scarcity of understanding that might cause some of these discussions to be more frequent or a louder than they were previously.”

Teachers say that one way to alleviate this divide is by encouraging connections between young men and women across political lines––being able to see eye to eye can decrease generalized assumptions made about other groups. 

“I don’t think the classroom is a space for teachers to share their political ideas. A classroom should be a lab for learning, but part of that learning is like students learning about themselves and how they see the world. I think that there should be room for students to explore, question, and think critically, but we also want to protect who we have in the classroom,” Olson said.

 However, meeting in the middle has become difficult. Not only are we growing divided on political views, we are also becoming increasingly intolerant of the other side. Over time, less people have dated people of opposing parties: a 1958 Gallup poll reported that 72% of respondents didn’t care if their daughter married “a Democrat or a Republican, with all other things being equal.” In 2016, only 45% said they didn’t care––, respondents were evenly split on whether they wanted their child to marry a Democrat (28%) or a Republican (27%). 

In severe cases like South Korea, this divide has contributed to population decline, and something similar could manifest in the United States, where people are apprehensive towards dating people of opposing political beliefs. Party-affiliation filters on dating apps like Bumble and Tinder that allow users to sift through potential partners based on their political beliefs have become increasingly popular. 

“Political affiliation has definitely become a huge factor in relationships because morals and politics have become increasingly intertwined. It feels like the political issues of today are so much more social than the used to be, and because of that, every issue feels more personal to me, because it feels like we’re growing up in a world it feels like we’re getting increasingly divided,” said senior Sophie Ultan.

The implications of this divide on M-A can be projected onto a larger global scale, and will only be exacerbated in the future through the growth of social media, cultural figures, and echo chambers, ultimately posing the potential for a greater regression for women’s rights and preventing the bridging of the gap between men and women. However, some teachers are more hopeful towards dismantling the binary divide. 

“Nobody’s a monolith, and that’s why I think that part of why the divide is happening is that we’re so focused on differences, but we’re actually more alike than we are different in so many ways,” Olson said. 

“It’s important that we look for those commonalities, look for those opportunities to learn from each other, and not fall into this polarized narrative: politics are inherently polarized because we’ve made them that way. There’s a spectrum of gender, but we’ve made it into this binary, which also means that we can dismantle it. We just have to do that work to do it.”

Celine Chien is a junior in her second year at the Chronicle. She is the current Editor-in-Chief, a Design Lead for the Mark, a copy editor, and reports on detracking and community news. Celine is on M-A's debate team, Leadership-ASB, and loves to cook and spend time with her family.

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