FILE – Women’s March. (The Canadian Press)

FILE – Women’s March. (The Canadian Press)

Canadian support for gender equality doesn’t match reality, survey suggests

A surprising 11 per cent of Canadians said men should have more right to a job than women at times when work is scarce

Canadian support for the principle of equal rights for women and men is among the highest in the world — but in practice, archaic attitudes towards gender roles are still alive and well both at home and around the globe, a new survey suggests.

Respondents to the international Pew Research Center poll released Thursday expressed overwhelming support for the concept of gender equality — 93 per cent of Canadians surveyed ranked it as “very important,” second only to Sweden at 96 per cent.

In more practical terms, however, the survey found a significant gap between men and women when it comes to which gender they believe enjoys a higher quality of life: 69 per cent of women in Canada said men have a better quality of life, compared with 49 per cent of Canadian men who said the same thing.

“It is the case, I think, that people in Canada really see men and women having equal rights as very important. And they’re somewhat more optimistic than other countries that women will eventually have the same rights as men,” said Pew research associate Janell Fetterolf.

“At the same time, people do recognize that it’s not necessarily the case now in some of these situations.”

A surprising 11 per cent of Canadians said men should have more right to a job than women at times when work is scarce, compared with 88 per cent who disagreed. In the U.S., the ratio was similar: 13 per cent agreed with favouring men, compared to 85 per cent who felt differently.

Elsewhere in the world, a majority of people surveyed in countries like India, Tunisia and Nigeria reported the inverse sentiment, skewing the 34-country median to 56 per cent of all respondents who preferred men having a fast-track on scarce jobs, and 40 per cent who disagreed.

The results suggest that the issue of equality, much like environmental concerns over the last 20 years, have tended to attract a level of outward public support that can suddenly dissolve when people’s economic well-being is under threat.

“That question in particular about the specific context of job scarcity gives us a really interesting insight into how people feel,” Fetterolf said.

“Gender equality is something that people feel very strongly about and think is important, but it is still the case that there are instances where people might prefer there to be inequality.”

The survey was conducted in 2019 as part of the centre’s annual Global Attitudes Survey, the results of which the institute gradually releases annually over the course of the following year. Interviews with 1,004 adult respondents in Canada were conducted by phone between May 27 and July 10 of last year, and the Canadian portion carries a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

About two-thirds of respondents in Canada said men have more access to high-paying jobs, while just two per cent said the same thing about women. Thirty-one per cent said opportunities for both genders are about equal.

Only 43 per cent said men have more opportunities to be leaders in their community; 54 per cent said the balance is about equal, while three per cent said women have the advantage.

The research also shows that some respondents in Canada still cling to long-standing perceptions about gender roles: 22 per cent said men have more influence over household financial decisions, compared to 11 per cent who said women control the purse strings. Sixty-four per cent said the balance is equal.

Women exert more control over child-rearing decisions, 37 per cent of Canadians said, compared with just three per cent who said the same thing about men. Fifty-eight per cent called it a draw.

Three-quarters of Canadians surveyed said marriages are more satisfying when both partners work and share household duties, compared with 15 per cent who preferred to see the husband as the provider and the wife at home with the children.

Perhaps not surprisingly, “people younger than 30 are more likely than those aged 50 and older to say a marriage where both the husband and wife have jobs and take care of the house and children is the more satisfying way of life,” the centre said.

Canadian women are also less optimistic than their male counterparts when it comes to the future of gender equality: 88 per cent of female respondents said they either are or expected to be treated equally, compared with 93 per cent of men.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police seized two fake guns and a knife on Saturday along Gladys Avenue in east Abbotsford.
Man arrested in Abbotsford after having fake gun for second time this year

Officers respond to all firearm calls as if the guns are real, police say

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Tabor Home records 16 deaths and 124 COVID-19 cases

63 per cent of residents at Abbotsford long-term-care facility have tested positive

Elementary teacher Jo-Ann Lindahl poses with her students following an outdoor ‘closing circle’ in which they discussed what they had learned that day. (Image submitted)
Mission elementary teacher to receive national Indigenous educator award

Jo-Ann Lindahl named a 2020 Guiding the Journey: Educator Award recipient

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:06 a.m.
Early-morning crash on Highway 1 has morning commuters in gridlock

Westbound crash occurred in Langley, west of 264th Street; left lane blocked

Swoop Airlines. (Contributed)
COVID-19 case reported on Abbotsford-bound flight last week

Affected flight landed in Abbotsford on Nov. 16

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Police lights
Vancouver elementary school locked down after unknown man walks into classroom

Police arrested the man and sent him for a psych evaluation

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

Most Read