Men’s Lives Often Seen As Better: Gender Equality Universally Embraced, But Inequalities Acknowledged
Fifteen years after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women’s Beijing Platform for Action proclaimed that “shared power and responsibility should be established between women and men at home, in the workplace and in the wider national and international communities,” people around the globe embrace the document’s key principles.
Almost everywhere, solid majorities express support for gender equality and agree that women should be able to work outside the home. Most also find a marriage in which both spouses share financial and household responsibilities to be more satisfying than one in which the husband provides for the family and the wife takes care of the house and children. In addition, majorities in most countries reject the notion that higher education is more important for a boy than for a girl.
Yet, despite a general consensus that women should have the same rights as men, people in many countries around the world say gender inequalities persist in their countries. Many say that men get more opportunities than equally qualified women for jobs that pay well and that life is generally better for men than it is for women in their countries. This is especially so in some of the wealthier nations surveyed. And while majorities in nearly every country surveyed express support for gender equality, equal rights supporters in most countries say that more changes are needed to ensure that women have the same rights as men.
These are among the findings of a 22-nation survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, conducted April 7 to May 8. This special in-depth look at views on gender equality, done in association with the International Herald Tribune, also suggests that, while egalitarian sentiments are pervasive, they are less than robust; when economically challenging times arise, many feel men should be given preferential treatment over women in the search for employment.
This is especially true in the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed as well as in India, China, South Korea and Nigeria. In these countries, solid majorities agree that women should be able to work outside the home; yet, most also agree that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce. For example, about six-in-ten in Egypt (61%) and Jordan (58%) say women should have the right to work outside the home, but even larger shares (75% and 68%, respectively) say the priority should be for men to have jobs.
In some countries, male respondents are considerably more likely than female respondents to agree that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce. For example, about nine-in-ten Egyptian men (92%) share this view, compared with 58% of Egyptian women. Similarly, while about three-quarters of Jordanian men (77%) say their sex should be more entitled to a job in tough economic times, a much slimmer majority of Jordanian women (56%) say the same.
Men and women also frequently offer diverging views on other aspects of gender equality, including a woman’s right to work outside the home and the importance of higher education for boys and girls; this gender gap is evident most consistently in the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed.
The survey also finds that women are far more likely than men to perceive gender inequalities. By double-digit margins, female respondents in 13 of 22 nations are more likely than male respondents to say men in their countries have the better life. And in most countries where majorities among both men and women agree that men get more opportunities than women for high-paying jobs, women are considerably more likely to say they completely agree that is the case.
Released July 1, 2010