Gender inequality exists, but significant proportion of Singaporeans are too scared to speak out
Findings from a global study on Attitudes Towards Gender Equality conducted by Ipsos in collaboration with the Global institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.
- 63% Singaporeans believe there is inequality between men and women in terms of social, political and/or economic rights in the country
- In the past year,
- 23% Singaporeans heard a friend or family member make a sexist comment about a woman
- 16% have seen examples of gender discrimination at work
- 44% Singaporeans are scared to speak out and advocate the equal rights of women because of what might happen to them
- 65% Singaporeans (69% men and 61% women) agree "there are actions I can take to help promote equality between men and women"
- 62% Singaporeans agree "women won't achieve equality in Singapore unless men take actions to support women's rights too"
Nearly two-thirds of Singaporeans (63%) believe that there is inequality between men and women in terms of social, political and/or economic rights in the country, but 44% are scared to speak out and advocate equal rights for women because of the perceived consequences of doing so.
These are some of the findings from a global study on Attitudes Towards Gender Equality conducted by Ipsos in collaboration with the Global institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.
Fear of speaking out
Inputs from Singapore respondents indicate that in the past year, 23% had heard a friend or family member make a sexist comment about a woman in the past year, and 16% have seen examples of gender discrimination at work.
However, when it comes to speaking up for women’s rights, the proportion of Singaporeans who are scared to do so is higher than the global average of 37%, with the country coming in just after India (65%), Malaysia (58%) and Thailand (52%).
Amongst the reasons cited for this is the fear of repercussions if they were to do so, for example, the worry that speaking up will damage their own career or situation (12%).
Barriers to conversation
There are thus lingering barriers to speaking out for women’s rights or having a conversation on the subject.
- 13% of Singaporeans say they do not know how to talk about gender equality or what steps they should take to promote it.
- 15% say the topic is not relevant/important to them (compared with the global average of 10%)
- 17% Singaporeans say there is nothing they can do that will really make a difference
Overcoming the inertia
There are, however, signs that Singaporeans are starting to overcome this inertia. In the Ipsos study, 65% agree that "there are actions I can take to help promote equality between men and women". This puts Singapore above the global average of 62%. Interestingly, more men than women feel this way (69% of men compared with 61% women).
The survey also found that in the past year, 11% of respondents talked to employers/senior managers about examples of gender discrimination at work. Again, the proportion of men who did this was higher than women (16% men compared with 9% women).
This adds weight to the sentiment that the support of the men is important in helping women to achieve equality. According to the study, 62% Singaporeans agree "women won't achieve equality in Singapore unless men take actions to support women's rights too". While this is down from 69% who agreed to the statement in 2022, it is nonetheless interesting that more women than men agreed to this - 67% of women compared with 57% of men.
Flip side of the coin
On the flip side of the coin, 57% of Singaporeans think men are being expected to do too much to support equality – 64% of men compared with 50% of women.
The survey also indicates a growing sentiment that things have gone so far in promoting women’s equality that men are being discriminated against. Almost 48% of people globally – and the same proportion in Singapore - agree with this statement.
Hamish Munro, Ipsos APAC CEO, said: "Every year on International Women’s Day all countries take stock of how they are performing in promoting gender equality. Our survey findings show there is still a lot to be done to foster a conducive environment for gender equality and that both genders play an important role in achieving this. This year’s theme of #EmbraceEquity lays emphasis on equity, but this should apply for both the genders. Inclusion for both genders is important."
Ena Rivera, Ipsos APAC HR Director, said: "Ipsos celebrates women and men. We celebrate our differences and make all employees comfortable in who they are. As the best place to work in the industry, we have imbedded diversity and inclusion in the business where all of us belong at Ipsos and have equal access to opportunities.”
Detailed findings from this global study can be accessed here