Popularization of traditional values and demand for a “strong man” shape Russian views of women in politics:
- Most of Russians oppose women in top leadership positions (as a president or as a prime minster). People are unwilling to entrust key political offices, including the ones related to security, to women.
- Russians do not oppose women holding important political positions but if those positions are not the highest ones. They are fine with women being heads of political parties, parliamentary groups or committees and ministries dealing with social issues.
- Young respondents aged 18-24 are more likely to accept women as political leaders. Female president or prime minister are highly welcome by residents of Moscow and St Petersburg.
- High-income populations are more likely to be conservative when it comes to choosing the president or prime-minister. Female president and prime minister are least supported by them.
In early March, VCIOM and Center for current policy (CCP) conducted a joint study devoted to the attitudes of Russians towards female politicians. The results have shown that the idea of a female politician has become less popular compared with the previous survey results (2016).
The share of Russians who would not oppose a woman as a minister of health, social provision or education has decreased from 89% in 2016 to 69% in 2020. At the same time, the number of those who would oppose that has increased from 7% to 20%.
In 2020, 51% of respondents say they would accept a woman as a party leader (vs 66% in 2016); the share of those who would oppose that has increased from 26% to 35%.
In 2016, 59% of respondents wanted to see a woman as the head of a parliamentary group or a State Duma committee (vs 51% in 2020). Thirty-five percent of respondents would oppose that today (vs 30% in 2016).
The share of those who would like to see a woman as prime minister is only 31% in 2020 (vs 55% in 2016). The share of those who would oppose it has increased from 36% to 56%.
And finally, the percentage of respondents would like to have a female president has decreased from 31% to 21%. Simultaneously, the share of those who oppose them has increased from 61% to 68%.
There is only one question where the figures have not changed much. Russians are least willing to see a female minister of defense, internal affairs on a prosecutor general (12% of approvals in 2016 vs 11% in 2020; 83% of disapprovals for both years).
Both Russian men and women are unwilling to see a female president or prime-minster, i.e. a woman holding key state positions.
A female president is likely to be unfavored by 68% of men and women (each), whereas a female prime-minister is unfavored by 57% of men and 55% of women.
When it comes to the positions of minister of defense, prosecutor general or minister of internal affairs, i.e. officials in charge of security, most of men and women have similar views: 82% of men and 83% of women would oppose a woman holding these positions in the federal government.
However, men and women perceive women heading a faction, a parliamentary committee or a political party in a different way. Women are more likely to be in favor a woman at the top of a State Duma faction or committee (55% vs 51% across sample in general), whereas men are more likely to oppose them (38% vs 35% across sample in general). Women at the top of political parties are perceived in the same way: more than half of female respondents support the idea (55% vs 51% across sample in general); on the contrary, male respondents are more likely to oppose that (39% vs 35% across sample in general).
Most of Russians support the idea of a woman holding a position dealing with social affairs: minister of health, social provision or education; approvals are mainly given by female respondents (72% vs 69% across sample in general); men are more likely to oppose this idea (24% vs 20% across sample in general).
Youth support; wealthy people oppose
Most of Russians do not support the idea of a female president. But there are differences in terms of respondent’s age. Younger generations are more likely to favor this idea (43% of the 18-24-year-olds vs 21% across sample in general). Respondents aged 60 and over are less likely to welcome a female president (78% vs 68% across sample in general).
Young people are also in favor of the idea of a female prime-minister (50% of respondents aged 18-24 and 38% of those aged 25-34; 31% across sample).
Despite the fact that young people are more prone to favor women in politics, gender stereotypes are present in this group as well: political and economic decision-making positions are less favored compared to positions related to social affairs.
Remarkably, perceptions of female politicians are shaped by respondent’s wealth status. Respondents with higher income are most likely to oppose the idea of a female president (74%); this group is least likely to support this idea (19%) (vs 21% of Russians in general).
Russian VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted March 1, 2020. Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,600 Russians aged 18 and older. A stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of Russian landline and mobile phone numbers is used. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.
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