02 October 2018

From girls to men: Social attitudes to gender equality in Australia

This report presents the findings from a national survey of 2,122 Australians about their attitudes to issues of sexism and gender inequality.  The survey explored: 1) the attitudes of men and women to issues of gender equality and empowerment; 2) attitudinal differences by generation; and, 3) the relationship between online activity (social media browsing, game playing and recreational browsing) and attitudes to gender equality. The survey found that an overwhelming proportion of Australians (88%) agreed that inequality between women and men is still a problem in Australia today. This observation is consistent with comparable surveys conducted nationally since 2009. There were three distinctive voices in the gender equality debate in Australia: the traditional view (43%), the moderate view (62%), and the progressive view (68%). The traditional view revolves around negative views of women in leadership roles, and traditional views on women in the workplace and the home. The moderate view combines a more egalitarian set of views around gender equality in the workplace and at home but with rising concern over the ‘growing political correctness of Australian society’. This value system was characterised by a desire for a greater focus on men’s rights as well as women’s rights, and concern for freedom of speech and promotion of a more inclusive discussion on gender equality. The progressive view was defined by Australians who most strongly aligned with the need for concerted policy action on gender equality issues both in the workplace and in society. However, attitudinal viewpoints were not mutually exclusive, with many respondents falling into multiple types depending on their own complex range of opinions on gender politics and personal circumstances. Overall, however, there was a convergence around the moderate value system, which the authors argued is unlikely to facilitate anything other than incremental change in gender equality.