The political scientist Dan Cassino suggests that the increased support for male leadership in home life among 18- to 25-year-olds may reflect an attempt to compensate for men’s loss of dominance in the work world. Youths surveyed in 2014 grew up in the shadow of the financial crisis, which accelerated the longstanding erosion of men’s earning power. During the 2016 primaries, when Professor Cassino asked voters questions designed to remind them that many women now earn more than men, men became less likely to support Mrs. Clinton. Perhaps a segment of youth is reacting to financial setbacks suffered by their fathers. Indeed, a 2015 poll commissioned by MTV found that 27 percent of males aged 14 to 24 felt women’s gains had come at the expense of men.
It’s not just the youngest millennials who seem resistant to continuing the gender revolution. Overall, Americans aged 18 to 34 are less comfortable than their elders with the idea of women holding roles historically held by men. And millennial men are significantly more likely than Gen X or baby boomer men to say that society has already made all the changes needed to create equality in the workplace.
Are we facing a stall or even a turnaround in the movement toward gender equality? That’s a possibility, especially if we continue to pin our hopes on an evolutionary process of generational liberalization. But there is considerable evidence that the decline in support for “nontraditional” domestic arrangements stems from young people witnessing the difficulties experienced by parents in two-earner families.