Although democratic institutions existed long before gender equality, at this point in history, growing emphasis on gender equality is a central component of the process of democratization. Support for gender equality is not just a consequence of democratization. It is part of a broad cultural change that is transforming industrialized societies and bringing growing mass demands for increasingly democratic institutions. This article analyzes the role of changing mass attitudes in the spread of democratic institutions, using survey evidence from 70 societies containing 80 percent of the world's population. The evidence supports the conclusion that the process of modernization drives cultural change that encourage both the rise of women in public life, and the development of democratic institutions.