To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, Dianne Gardiner, CEO of Bastion Latitude, summarises new research on gender equality and provides some real insights as to how Australia measures up compared to the rest of the world on this issue.
Australia has made great strides towards achieving gender equality in society, but as International Women’s Day approaches it is apparent that much more still needs to be done to bridge the chasm between the sexes.
Bastion Latitude recently surveyed over 700 Australians to assess their perspective on this matter and we compared these results to 30,000 other participants surveyed worldwide as part WIN International’s 2018 World Survey exploring the outlook, expectations, views and beliefs of people from 40 countries.
When it comes to our workplaces, the majority of Australians believe we are making progress in gender equality, with the millennials – or “under 35s” – the most optimistic group.
More than half (60 per cent) of Australians say we have definitely or to some extent achieved gender equality in the workplace. Comparatively only 54 per cent of those surveyed outside Australia felt this was the case.
However, there is still much work to be done as only 18 per cent of Australians say gender equality in the workplace has definitely been achieved.
What’s really interesting is younger Australians (under 35 years) are more likely to feel equality has been achieved.
Perhaps this is because they have not yet experienced the gender challenges that come with starting a family, but it could also be argued that this is a sign of true generational change.
For example, gender equality is much more the norm in schools today, with as many girls playing football and soccer as boys and more opportunities now available at the elite level.
These are small signals that can have a life-long impact on perceived gender roles.
Australians are also making more progress on gender equality on the home-front in terms of a greater sharing of household and parental responsibilities.
Close to three quarters (74 per cent) of Australians surveyed stated gender equality has definitely or to some extent been achieved at home.
To give more context to these results, 30 per cent of Australians say gender equality at home has definitely been achieved, a significantly higher number than the 18 per cent who say this is the case in the workplace.
However, it is in politics that most Australians feel we are lagging behind in making progress towards gender equality compared to international standards.
This came to the forefront in the media recently, with former Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and a number of other MPs speaking out about the issue.
Less than half (39 per cent) of Australians believe gender equality has been achieved to some extent.
This compares to 46 per cent of those surveyed across the rest of the world.
The fascinating thing about these results is that there is a large difference between the way men and women perceive the situation – a gap that is seen across all results worldwide. 33 per cent of the Australian women surveyed felt there is gender equality in politics, while 44 per cent of males believe this is the case.
It remains an uphill battle for political equality in Australia given that politicians often don’t give priority to the issue and political parties continue to be largely male-dominated.
Interestingly, only 19 per cent of Australians surveyed believe that social attitudes and behaviours treat men and women equally, with 58 per cent saying that men are favoured, while only 18.5 per cent felt women were favoured.
What we can learn from this is that gender equality starts in the home and then in the workplace. All of these domains play a role in being part of the solution to change. But it’s our politicians that are way behind in realising change is needed. Now the conversation has started, hopefully, further change may follow.