Ms. Foundation for Women National Survey: Fresh Look at Public Views on Issues and Solutions

NEW YORK, NY — In a new survey, the Ms. Foundation for Women takes a fresh look at how the public thinks about community problems and solutions, including the intersections of race, gender equality, and income inequality. The findings offer a glimpse into what the public may want when candidates for office, elected officials, and non-profit organizations address our most difficult issues.


  • A majority of the public sees issues in their community as linked – not as siloed problems – and they want elected officials to propose solutions from that approach. They may dismiss easy answers or platitudes.
  • Presidential candidates may be missing the point by referring to “women’s issues,” which a majority of the public hears narrowly as “equal pay” and “abortion.” In reality, most see issues affecting women much more broadly.
  • A large majority of the public believes there is more work to do around gender equality. Many recognize that women of color have fewer opportunities than white women. A majority also sees unequal opportunities when it comes to income.
  • The public sees women and men as having different views on policy solutions as well as different strengths when it comes to solving problems. Men and women agree on these points – as do individuals across political party
  • That said, many see a deficit of women in positions of power at both the community and national levels.
  • Most people, while initially rejecting the title “feminist,” believe in the core principles of feminism.
  • After a very simple definition of feminism, the proportion that identifies with the label jumps from 16 percent to 52 percent.

The survey shows that people see issues in their community as interconnected and would rather hear candidates and elected officials propose solutions with this in mind. When it comes to community problems, issues around economic security rise to the top – not necessarily a new polling finding. What is new, however, is that the survey reveals which issues the public sees as having disproportionate effects between genders.

While most feel that women and men approach problems differently and have different strengths, they are much more likely to feel that men — rather than women — are in positions to fix problems.

Finally, the survey shows the term “feminist” may have lost some of its meaning. After hearing a very simple definition, the percentage of the public who adopts the label triples.

The survey was a nationally representative sample of 1,051 U.S. adults. It was fielded from May 19 through 26, 2015, and the margin of error for the total results is + 3.0 percentage points.

The survey was conducted online using GfK’s Knowledge Panel. The panel is constructed with probability-based sampling from the U.S. Postal Service’s Delivery Sequence File, which allows for an estimated 97% of households to be
covered. Respondents without Internet access or a computer are provided with both for participation.


Ms. Foundation for Women National Survey, Executive Summary

Ms. Foundation for Women National Survey, Toplines

Ms. Foundation for Women National Survey, Press Brief