A recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan sheds light on the political ideologies of twelfth-grade students, showing interesting trends in gender differences. The “Monitoring the Future” survey indicates that boys in their final year of high school are increasingly leaning towards conservative views, with nearly double the number of boys identifying as conservative compared to liberal. On the other hand, girls of the same age are overwhelmingly gravitating towards liberalism, with approximately 30% identifying as liberals, which represents a significant increase since 2015.
Impact of Negative Portrayal on Boys’ Ideologies
Psychotherapist Thomas Kersting suggests that these shifts in political beliefs extend beyond the realm of politics. According to Kersting, young boys may be reacting to the negative portrayal of men in recent years, which has led some to associate being male with wrongdoing. The focus on advancing the cause of women and minorities might also contribute to a perceived lack of support for young males, prompting them to distance themselves from liberal ideals.
Understanding Perceptions of Liberalism in the Current Landscape
Kersting argues that today’s version of liberalism is often perceived as “extreme” when compared to past decades. In his view, conservatism is centered around faith, family, and country, emphasizing the roles of protectors and providers while promoting respect for everyone, including women. However, he believes that the positive aspects of conservatism are not being accurately represented in current political discourse.
Shifting Gender Trends and Changing Ideologies
The study indicates a departure from previous generations, where both young men and women tended to lean left in similar numbers. For instance, in the late 2000s, the percentage of boys identifying as liberal was 21%, which dropped to 13% in 2020. Conversely, the number of girls identifying as conservative has decreased over time, with only 12% of high school seniors in the survey identifying as such.
This survey’s findings shed light on the evolving dynamics of political ideologies among today’s youth and the potential influence of social and cultural narratives on gender perceptions and political affiliations.