Reflecting Ireland – An insight into consumer behavioural change in Ireland – Gender Equality
24 February 2022
From a distance, it may seem gender equality is something we don’t need to worry about. But how far down the road to equality are we today? As we approach International Women’s Day, this quarter our Reflecting Ireland research focuses on our attitudes and behaviours related to gender equality in Ireland from the perspective of both women and men in Ireland today. Our research, conducted in partnership with Kantar is very revealing, it shows that despite the progress made to date, we have nothing to be complacent about.
We’ve teamed up with Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise as we learn from a behavioural science perspective, even when gender equality legislation is in place it is usually not enough on its own to deliver equality. Attitudes and day to day behaviours give us a clearer picture of the true extent of gender equality in society.
Our research looked at three areas: work life, media and advertising, and home life. We also look at where both genders are aligned, and where they diverge.
In the broader scheme of things, Gender equality ranks lowest among the issues affecting the Irish population today. The top issues concerning us at the moment are the cost of living (62%), the price of housing (47%), access to quality healthcare (46%), homelessness (40%) and rising rents (35%), all of which come ahead of Covid-19 (23%). We seem to have put worry about the pandemic behind us as we become increasingly preoccupied by the rising cost of living.
Irish men and women are aligned on our progress to date, with 62% in each case agreeing that Irish society has made great progress on gender equality over the last decade. 7 out of 10 believe that achieving gender equality is a shared responsibility between men and women with little difference between the sexes; 71% of women, 66% of men.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, women attach much more importance to enforcing gender equality at 77%, compared to men at 56%, a difference of 21%.
Women’s views on gender equality are strongest when it comes to working life, and it is here where we see the greatest divergence from men’s views. Almost 3 in every 4 women (72%) feel women have to work harder than men to achieve the same level of success in their career, compared to 46% of men, a gap of 26%.
One in every two women feel it’s fair to have gender quotas in areas where women are under-represented, including politics and senior management. Only 1 in every 3 men agree. It seems the general principle of gender quotas sits better with women: 46% feel it’s fair to have gender quotas in areas where men are under-represented. This falls to 30% among men.
Women are more likely than men to feel frustrated about trying to balance work and family (37% vs. 24%), that their career could suffer from trying to juggle work and home life (36% vs. 24%), that the boundaries between work and home life are blurring (34% vs. 28%) and that this leaves them with a sense of being ‘always on’ (34% vs. 24%).
A narrative emerging from the pandemic internationally is that lockdowns and restrictions have led to women taking on more of the unpaid household and caring duties than men, exacerbating gender inequalities that already existed. Our research points to a similar pattern in Ireland. Over half of Irish women (53%) feel that gendered roles have become more ‘traditional’ as a consequence of the pandemic, with women taking more responsibility for caring in the home than before.
Three quarters of women (76%) feel women get a raw deal when it comes to body image, but less than half of men agree (46%). At 30%, this is the widest gap between the views of men and women.
The power of female role models to inspire others is evident, with 67% of women agreeing that successful women in the public eye inspire them, vs. 39% of men.
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