In 2015-16, The Meredith College Poll focused on business topics, gathering opinions on women as business leaders and on the issues behind the wage gap.
In the fall, the poll explored North Carolinians’ views of women as business leaders and entrepreneurs. According to the poll, 85% of North Carolinians perceive the leadership abilities of men and women equally.
“There are areas of this poll that really put in the positive the strides women are making in business. The good news for women is that the public is seeing them as equally qualified to men in terms of leading corporations,” said Kristie Ogilvie, dean of the Meredith College School of Business.
North Carolinians are generally pessimistic about the abilities of women to achieve gender equity as corporate leaders or business owners. When asked if there will be an equal number of women in top executive leadership positions as there are men in the next decade, a slight majority of all North Carolinians (57%) thought it was likely or very likely to happen. Under half of the women surveyed (47%) thought that gender equity would be achieved in corporate CEO positions in the next decade.
“Though this data shows we are making progress, there are conversations that need to continue to happen, because if a woman is as qualified, and is perceived as qualified, but a majority of corporations are not ready to put women in those roles then I don’t believe we are as far along as we need to be,” Ogilvie said.
The focus of the spring 2016 Meredith College Poll was perceptions of the wage gap between men and women. The gap between wages paid to men and women for the same job has been an enduring issue in the country. Economists for the Bureau of Labor and other nongovernmental organizations have argued that, even with increased attention to this issue over the last few decades that women continue to earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same job with comparable performance.
The survey asked North Carolinians about the wage gap, its causes, and potential solutions, including political ones. A great majority (78%) of registered voters indicated that the wage gap between men and women as a significant issue with only 10% of voters saying it was somewhat insignificant or insignificant. When asked about their perceptions of why the wage gap exists, many believed that it was due to overt discrimination against women in the workplace.
Other business-focused questions explored by the poll this year included perceptions of leadership abilities of men and women; the impact of family on women’s leadership; the impact of having children; and whether the country has made most of the changes needed to give women equal rights to men.
Meredith College students administer The Meredith College Poll as part of the College's commitment to civic engagement.