According to the new poll, 58 percent of Americans say that, if they could choose, they would prefer a Congress made up of about the same number of men and women. Sixteen percent said they prefer a mostly male Congress, while 9 percent said they would prefer one composed of mostly women.
Among women, 61 percent said that they would prefer an even gender divide in Congress, while 12 percent said they would prefer a mostly female Congress and 11 percent would prefer a mostly male Congress. Men were somewhat more likely to prefer a mostly male to a mostly female Congress, 22 percent to 6 percent, though 55 percent of men said they'd prefer an even divide.
Democrats (67 percent) were more likely than either Independents (55 percent) or Republicans (51 percent) to want a Congress with gender equality. With respondents' gender and party identification taken into account, Republican men were the only group not to show a majority preference for an equal gender divide in Congress. They were about equally divided, 39 percent to 37 percent, between those who said they thought Congress should have about the same number of men and women and those who wanted a mostly male Congress.
By a 45 percent to 27 percent margin, poll respondents were more likely to say that the interests of women are not fairly represented in Congress. Women themselves were especially likely to say that women's interests are not fairly represented (by a 53 percent to 17 percent margin).
Men, on the other hand, were equally divided, with 38 percent saying that women's interests are fairly represented and 36 percent saying that they are not. By a 52 percent to 15 percent margin, Republican men said that women's interests are fairly represented.
Women were about as likely as men to say that Congress represents "the needs and interests of people like you" very or somewhat well -- those saying so constituted a minority of both groups. Overall, only 4 percent of respondents said that Congress represents the needs of "people like you" very well, while 13 percent said it represents them somewhat well, 38 percent said not very well, and 38 percent said not at all well.
Generally speaking, poll respondents were aware that the current Congress has few women. Fifty-three percent of respondents said that less than a quarter of current members of Congress are women, while another 25 percent said that it's less than half. Women make up 18.3 percent of the current Congress, with 20 percent of the Senate and 17.9 percent of the House of Representatives.
The poll was conducted May 28-29 among 1,000 adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.
Clarification: Language has been changed in the headline to reflect that the present survey's results are not being compared to previous surveys.