Majority of men support gender equality – Ipsos global study

Majority of men acknowledge that gender equality can only be achieved with men’s support, however half think they are being expected to do too much.

Majority of men support gender equality – Ipsos global study

  • Two thirds believe that women won’t achieve equality in their country unless men take actions to support women’s rights too
  • In most countries childcare is no longer seen as the preserve of the woman
  • Three in ten people globally nominate sexual harassment as the top issue facing women, in Australia the top issue is domestic abuse
  • Close to half (47%) are confident that discrimination against women in education will have ended in 20 years.

A new global study conducted by Ipsos in collaboration with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London and International Women’s Day finds that the majority of men agree that that women won’t achieve equality without their support but half believe they are expected to do too much to support women’s equality.

The survey, carried out online among adults under 65 across 27 countries, reveals that two-thirds (65%) believe that women will not achieve equality in their country unless men take actions to support women’s rights too. One quarter (25%) disagree. Three in five men (61%) agree compared to seven in ten women (69%). In Australia, 63% agree with the statement, while 24% disagree.

People are split, however, on whether too much is being expected of men to help the fight for equality. Overall, 43% agree that men are being expected to do too much to support women’s equality in their country, compared with 46% who disagree. Half of all men (50%) agree that too much is expected of them to support women's equality while a third (36%) of women do. In Australia, 32% agree with the statement, while 54% disagree.

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister and Chair the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership, said: “The study shows that around the world people rightly believe gender equality has not gone far enough. While the issues we prioritise may be different country by country, there is a real consensus that men must play their part if we are to achieve true parity between the sexes.

“It is also heartening to see that attitudes towards male and female roles are changing. Politicians and business leaders must hear and act on that message. We need to redouble efforts to accelerate progress in tackling gender gaps and increasing female representation in positions of power.”

People still think it is easier to be a man than a woman in today’s society

Globally, half (52%) believe there are more advantages to being a man than a woman in society today. Just over one in ten (12%) believe that being a woman is more advantageous than being a man whereas a quarter (26%) believes there are no differences between men and women. Men are more likely to say there is no difference than women (30% compared to 22%).

A total of 45% of Australians believe that there are more advantages being a man, while 14% say there are more advantages being a woman and 27% say there is no difference.

Close to half believe the push for gender equality hasn’t gone far enough

More people disagree (49%) than agree (42%) that, when it comes to giving women equality, things have gone far enough. This marks a change from 2018 where 45% both agreed and disagreed with this statement – suggesting that perhaps the push for equality is gaining wider traction.

Australia ranks third (at 57%), behind Britain and Japan (both 59%) in thinking things haven’t gone far enough. The top three areas Australians believe would help to achieve equality are equal pay for men and women, educating boys and girls about the importance of gender equality in schools and tougher laws to prevent violence and harassment against women.

Fewer people across the world now say they would describe themselves as a feminist compared to 2018. Globally, a third of people (33%) say they would describe themselves as a feminist, which is a fall from 2018 figures (37%) suggesting that the term feminist continues to carry fairly negative connotations. Women are more likely to identify as a feminist than men (38% vs. 28%).

In Australia, one third (32%) describe themselves as feminist, while 55% do not.

There is still a long way to go to achieving gender equality but attitudes are changing

People believe that women today will have a better life than women of their parents’ generation and there is a majority view that achieving gender equality is an important goal.

Globally, half (50%) say that young women will have a better life than women from their parents’ generation. A quarter (23%) thinks it will be the same. For young men, 42% believe they will have a better life than men of their parents’ generation and 27% say it will be the same. One in five (21%) believe that young women will have a worse life than women of their parents’ generation.

In Australia, 38% agree that young women will have a better life than their parents’ generation, and a quarter (25%) thinks it will be worse.

Two-thirds of people globally (65%) say that achieving equality between men and women is important to them personally - although this has fallen five points since last year (70%), suggesting that, at a more personal level, gender equality has become less of a priority. Agreement among both men and women is high, with three in five men (62%) agreeing and seven in ten (69%) women.

In Australia, 60% say it is important to them personally, while 28% say it is not.

Attitudes towards masculinity are changing – childcare is no longer seen as a women’s job and the majority say they would be comfortable with a female boss

In most countries childcare is no longer seen as the preserve of the woman; three-quarters globally (75%) disagree that a man who stays at home to look after his children is less of a man compared with just one in five (18%) agreeing.

In Australia, 81% disagree that a man who stays home to look after his children is less of a man, while only 13% agree.

Three-quarters of people globally (75%) say they would be comfortable with having a female boss. Only 17% say they would feel uncomfortable. Men are more likely to say that they would feel uncomfortable if their boss was female (20%), compared to women (14%).

In Australia, 76% say they would be comfortable with a female boss, while 15% would feel uncomfortable.

The #metoo movement has made a positive difference

Close to two in five in both Great Britain (38%) and the US (37%) think that the #metoo movement has made a positive impact on society.

There is, however, a much bigger difference between Brits and Americans over the negative impact of the movement. Three in ten people in the US (31%) believe that the movement has had a negative impact on society compared with almost half this proportion (16%) in Britain.

Sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical violence, equal pay and domestic abuse are still seen as the top issues facing women across the globe

Three in ten people globally (30%) nominate sexual harassment as the top issue facing women, which is in line with findings in 2018 when the figure was 32%. Concerns over women’s safety dominate, yet we know from previous research that people massively underestimate the scale of the problem.1

Respondents in Australia (40%) see domestic abuse as the top issue. Equal pay is highlighted as much more of an issue in many European countries.

Equal pay and tougher laws to end violence and harassment against women seen as the key to helping achieve gender equality. And while strides are being made to end gender discrimination in education, people are least confident about progress in government and politics

Globally, the top actions that people feel would help to achieve equality between men and women are employers paying women the same as men for the same work (36%) and tougher laws to prevent violence and harassment against women (35%). The majority (69% and 68%) believes these respective actions will have a positive impact in achieving equality.

Close to half (48%) believe that the area of life where not enough is being done to achieve equal rights between men and women is looking after children and the home.

Education is the area where people think equality will be achieved first - close to half (47%) are confident that discrimination against women in education will have ended in 20 years’ time. But people are much less confident about this happening in government and politics (37%). These findings chime with the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap report2 that highlights that the political empowerment gender gap remains the widest and that progress has stalled or even reversed in some countries.

In Australia, 62% agree with the statement that barriers that stop women standing for senior positions in government and politics should be removed to achieve equality and 56% say better access to education for girls would have a positive impact in achieving equality.

Jessica Elgood, Director at Ipsos Australia, said: “The study shows there is still a long road ahead to achieving gender equality globally. What’s more, we know from previous work that people underestimate the scale of the task in hand. However, the survey does offer some green shoots of optimism; it is clear that attitudes towards masculinity and gender roles are changing, with childcare no longer being seen as the preserve of women. And people are optimistic that discrimination in some aspects of life – such as education will end in the next couple of decades. However, in order to progress in many other spheres a number of fundamentals need to change – from ensuring women are safe from violence and harassment and that women and men have equal pay at work. And the findings highlight that none of this can be achieved without the support of men. Men are integral if we are to achieve balance for better.”

Glenda Slingsby, from International Women’s Day, said: “A balanced world is a better world. The findings of the study highlight that everyone can play a role in forging gender parity. Gender balance is not a women's issue, it's an economic issue - so advocacy, inclusive mindsets and tangible action are needed from all. In many respects, the study indicates that we've moved on from women having to succeed in a man's world. Stereotypes are being challenged and more diverse representation of women is evident. Clearly, however, there is still a continuing need worldwide for more progressive mindsets and inclusive behaviours to be forged. Hopefully, through studies such as this and campaign themes with a strong call-to-action and widespread appeal - like our International Women's Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter theme - collectively everyone everywhere can strive for women's equality and continue to make positive gains."

1 https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/international-womens-day-global-misperceptions-equality-and-need-press-progress
2 https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2018