Singaporeans' Attitude Towards Gender Equality

Two-thirds believe that the pursuit of women's equal rights adequate, majority unbiased in leadership preferences

Ipsos, one of the world's leading market research companies, unveils the results of their latest global study carried out in collaboration with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London for International Women’s Day. The survey was conducted among ~24,000 people across 31 countries, of which includes ~500 Singaporeans. 

These are the key findings for Singapore, for the global report please click here.

Attitudes Towards Gender Equality 

Two-thirds of Singaporeans (62%) believe that when it comes to giving women equal rights with men in Singapore, things have gone far enough. A gendered breakdown of the data reveals a higher agreement among men (68%) compared to women (55%) on this sentiment. 

There seems to be an emerging sense of concern about the impact of gender equality on men. Almost half of Singaporeans (48%) think that we have gone so far in promoting women’s equality that we are discriminating against men. Notably, a significant 57% of Singaporean men echoed this sentiment, as opposed to 29% of women. 

While most Singaporeans (67%) admit that there are actions that they can take to help promote equality between men and women, there is still a fear among Singaporeans in advocating gender equality with 48% of Singaporeans saying that they are scared to speak out for the equal rights of women because of what might happen to them. Delving deeper, more than half (58%) of Singaporeans also agree that men are being expected to do too much to support equality.

Inclusion in Politics 

In response to hypothetical leadership selection, 27% of participants would prefer a male political leader, while a mere 7% would opt for a female. Interestingly, a sweeping majority of 63% expressed no preference for either gender in their choice of a political leader. 

Diving deeper into the aspects of leadership where Singaporeans deem better led by male or female politicians, some citizens exhibit a tendency towards traditional gender roles. The respondents who opined that male politicians excel tend to support their argument by pointing to areas such as defending national security (24%), fighting crime (21%), and getting the economy back on track (15%). 

In contrast, those who advocate for female politicians' prowess cite their fair treatment of women (24%), their ability to uplift the less advantaged (15%), and their fair treatment of individuals with LGBT+ identities (13%). 

However, it's worth noting the broad consensus among most Singaporeans that politicians of both genders are equally competent in numerous areas. This includes being honest and ethical (58%), ensuring fair treatment of ethnic minorities (57%), respecting the climate (57%), benefiting the less advantaged (57%), and steering the economy back on track (55%).

Inclusion in Business 

In business, almost two-thirds of Singaporeans think that male and female leaders are both equally good at creating a financially successful and innovative company (58% and 60% respectively). Among those with a preference, there is a significant difference between those that think male or female business leaders are better. In both aspects of creating a financially successful company and an innovative one, 16% think males are better, and only 8% think females are better.

Bringing it closer to their everyday context, when contemplating the gender of their ideal boss, respondents demonstrated a tendency to favour male bosses (36%) over female bosses (10%). However, the majority of respondents (51%) maintained a neutral stance, expressing no particular preference. 

Katharine Zhou, Country Manager for Ipsos in Singapore, commented, “It's revealing to see a majority believe that women's rights in Singapore have reached an adequate level, yet there is a significant gender difference in these perceptions. The concern expressed by 48% of respondents that the promotion of women’s equality might be discriminating against men is notable and warrants further examination. 

It is also interesting to note the apprehension among Singaporeans about advocating for gender equality. This could be attributed to various socio-cultural factors and shows us that while we have made progress, there is still work to be done. 

The study's findings on inclusion in politics and business are equally enlightening. While a substantial majority expressed no preference for the gender of a political leader or business leader, there's a tendency to associate certain roles and capabilities with specific genders. This points to a potential unconscious bias in our society. 

These findings call for a more comprehensive dialogue on gender equality, one that transcends familiar arguments into an increased appreciation of the nuanced sentiments that are emerging.”

Access the Global Press Release here 

Access the 31-Country Report with charts here