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Women Find Equality Lacking But Poll Shows Men More Upbeat About Workplace Atmosphere

Mon., Oct. 20, 1997, midnight

A sharp disagreement persists among American men and women about whether society is doing enough to promote sexual equality, especially in the workplace, according to an NBC News poll released Sunday.

Most adults, including 78 percent of men and 61 percent of women, say sex roles in marriage today are more equal than traditional.

When it comes to the workplace, 52 percent of men say the sexes are mostly equal, but 52 percent of women say the “old rules” of gender equality are still in effect.

About two in three women, or 65 percent, but only 43 percent of men say efforts to promote equality for women have not gone far enough in the United States.

NBC’s analysis of the poll found that both men and women seem confused about where to draw the line between acceptable and offensive behavior - with disagreement not so much by gender as by age.

“Younger women, especially those who work outside the home, are less offended than older women by things like complimenting a co-worker of the opposite sex on his or her appearance,” the network reported.

One in every five working women polled said they had had an experience at their job in the past two years that they felt was sexual harassment. That figure rose to about two in five among women under age 35.

Among men and women alike, one in five admitted having made a comment about a co-worker of the opposite sex that “crossed the line of appropriate behavior” within the past five years.

NBC released the poll to kick off a series of reports called “The Sex War: the Tension Between Men and Women,” appearing this week on various news programs on the network and its cable network, MSNBC.

The network’s pollsters, Peter Hart and Robert Teeter, surveyed 1,019 adults by phone Sept. 19-22. Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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