Less than half of women globally believe women have equal opportunities to men, while almost two thirds of men do

As the impact of Women's Marches is discussed around the world, a new global Ipsos survey across 23 countries finds that most men and women do not think that their governments are doing enough to promote equal opportunities for women.

As the impact of Women’s Marches is discussed around the world, a new global Ipsos survey across 23 countries finds that most men and women do not think that their governments are doing enough to promote equal opportunities for women.  There are wide disparities between countries, but almost always men are more positive about gender inequality than women.

Ipsos asked the online population in 23 countries whether women have equal opportunities to men in their country and the data suggests that less than half of women surveyed (45%) think they have equal opportunities to men, while six in ten (60%) men think they do. In Great Britain we are above the global average, with 67% of men and 51% of women agreeing that women have equality with men.

Differences around the globe

  • Differences in perception are especially stark in Poland where 59% of men think opportunities are equal compared to just 32% of women, as well as in Argentina (68% to 43%), South Africa (70% to 47%) and Peru (75% to 55%).
  • In the US, the country which initiated the global Women’s Marches, 72% of men think women have equal opportunities, compared with 53% of women.
  • Globally younger people are more optimistic than older people, with 56% of 18-24 year olds thinking opportunities are equal, compared to 48% of 50-64 year olds.
  • Relative income also has an impact; globally, 59% of those earning a higher income in their country believe that women have equal opportunities, compared to 48% of those earning a low income.

Perceptions do not always fit the reality

Perceptions of gender equality do not always fit the reality, as measured by the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index (2014).

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For instance, online respondents in India are most likely to say there is gender equality from all the countries surveyed, with 72% of respondents claiming that opportunities are equal between genders, including 68% of women. The reality according to the UNDP is very different, with India the worst-scoring of the 23 countries.  Of course, we need to bear in mind that this is a survey of the online population, and therefore in India (and other low internet penetration countries) it should be viewed as representative of a more affluent, connected middle class group, which may partly explain this gap between perceptions and reality.

At the other end of the spectrum, some countries that are objectively more equal judged themselves more unequal, including Japan, South Korea and Spain.

Some publics are better judges of gender equality in their country however – for instance Brazil considers itself to be more unequal and this is backed up by the UNDP figures. Conversely, German and Swedish publics feel that they have greater levels of gender equality, and the UNDP figures agree with them.

Are Governments doing enough?

When asked whether their government is doing enough to promote women’s equality, globally 40% of women don’t think their government is doing enough, while 33% are satisfied with their efforts. In comparison, just under half of men – 48% – feel their government is doing enough to promote equality, and one quarter (25%) disagree.

  • In some countries the differences are particularly notable, such as in the US where 60% of men think their government is doing enough, compared to 36% of women. This is the second highest difference in perception between the genders, behind only South Africa.
  • The public in Poland, Hungary and Brazil are most critical of their government’s efforts, with around half disagreeing that the government is doing enough. Just one in five women in these countries are satisfied with government efforts to promote women’s equality (Poland – 18%, Hungary – 19%, Brazil – 22%).
  • Views in Britain are close to the global average; just over four in ten Britons (43%) believe the government is doing enough to promote gender equality, compared to 40% globally. Agreement in Britain rises to 52% amongst men, whilst for women the figure falls to 35%.

Jonathan Glennie, Director of the Sustainable Development Research Centre, Ipsos, said:

“These results reveal the stark differences in perception between the sexes on gender equality. Most women still see their opportunities diminished because of their gender, while men are much less likely to be worried by this. Gender equality is a critical part of the Sustainable Development agenda (Goal 5) and these results show how far there is to go in this group of developed and emerging economies.”

Technical notes:

  • Interviews were conducted using the Ipsos Online Panel system, among 17,057 online adults aged 16-64 in 23 countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States).
  • Fieldwork was conducted between 23 September and 7 October 2016. Data is weighted to match the profile of each population.
  • In countries where internet penetration is approximately 60% or higher the data output generally reflects the overall population. Of the 23 countries surveyed online, 16 yield results that are balanced to reflect the general population: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and the United States. The 7 remaining countries surveyed – Brazil (58%), India (19%), Mexico (44%), South Africa (49%), Peru (53%) and China (50%) and Turkey (51%) - have lower levels of internet connectivity and reflect online populations that tend to be more urban and have higher education/income than the general population.

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