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A stark ideological divide is emerging globally among Gen Z

New research has revealed that the demographic is increasingly split on political issues, with young men becoming more conservative and young women becoming more progressive.

Something unexpected is happening between Gen Z men and women.

Over the past decade, numerous studies measuring public opinion have uncovered that notoriously progressive young people are growing more and more divided by gender on a host of key social and political issues, including drug addiction, crime, climate change, gun violence, and reproductive rights.

And, according to new research from the Financial Times, the most rapid divergence between the views of young men and women to take place this century is currently rearing its head, with ‘tens of millions of people who occupy the same cities, workplaces, classrooms, and even homes no longer seeing eye-to-eye.’

As it reveals, since 2014, women aged 18 to 29 have steadily become more liberal each year, while young men have paradoxically become more conservative. This data suggests that the demographic is now both simultaneously left-wing and right-wing, with female Gen Zers today more likely than their male contemporaries to vote, care about politics, and participate in protests.

In the US, Gen Z women are now 30 percentage points more liberal than Gen Z men, with the split accelerating significantly in the past decade. German Gen Z women are also 30 percentage points more liberal than German Gen Z men, while in the UK the gap is 25 points.

The ideological divide is even starker in South Korea, where – during the country’s 2022 presidential elections – young men voted primarily for the right-wing People Power Party and young women for the Liberal Democratic Party.

As the FT states, this is probably as a result of the #MeToo movement, which in 2017 (a formative moment for Gen Zers who would have been in school or university at the time) empowered young women across the globe to speak out about their experiences with sexism and misogyny.

However, despite the fact that this was hugely influential in uniting Gen Z women politically, many of their male counterparts began to feel as though society was turning against them, adopting the belief that feminism has less to do with promoting equality and more to do with attacking men.

To put this into perspective, in a 2020 survey by the research organisation PRRI, half of men agreed with the statement: ‘these days society seems to punish men just for acting like men.’

This has been exacerbated by the proliferation of smartphones and social media, which means that Gen Z men and women are increasingly inhabiting separate spaces (one being Andrew Tate’s world of Incel Culture).

‘Seven years on from the initial #MeToo explosion, the gender divergence in attitudes has become self-sustaining and the ideological differences now extend beyond this issue,’ writes the FT’s John Burn-Murdoch

‘The clear progressive-vs-conservative divide on sexual harassment appears to have caused – or at least is part of – a broader realignment of young men and women into conservative and liberal camps respectively on other issues. This shift could leave ripples for generations to come.’