Sympathy for gender equality in decline due to stereotypes

Research conducted by Cambridge University has revealed that support for gender equality in Britain and the United States has already peaked, and could now be at the beginning of a decline.

The study conducted by Professor Jacqueline Scott revealed growing sympathy for the old fashioned view that a “women’s place is in the home”. Commenting on the findings she said:-

"There is clear evidence that women's changing role is viewed as having costs both for the woman and the family.”

The survey compared the results of social attitude surveys from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. People were asked to say whether they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements. Statements such as "A husband's job is to earn income; a wife's to take care of the children. The results showed in the last decade there was an increasing shift to attitudes that a family suffers as a result of women pursuing careers.

The survey calls for further study into whether attitudes are changing because caring for a family is predominately seen as a women’s role. 

Gender equality campaigning body the Fawcett Society are not surprised by the findings. They argue this is mainly because women have unfairly been burdened with the bulk of domestic and caring responsibilities in today’s society. Adding to that the lack of flexible work options, the long hours working culture, they say women have been left with impossible choices.

 Kat Banyard, Campaigns Officer at the Fawcett Society said:

“Motherhood carries a penalty and women and men are straight-jacketed by gender stereotypes.  We need wholesale transformation. By making all roles flexible at every level, ending the long working hours culture, and challenging discriminatory attitudes, women and men could participate in the workplace on an equal footing and live free from stereotypes about whose role it is to do the caring. When that happens, business, the economy and society as a whole will all reap the benefits.”

The challenge for gender equality going forward it seems is not persuading organisations to trawl hoards of women into the workplace, but to create a sustainable change by tackling society’s perception of a women’s role within it.


Posted by

Dizali Mentha
Associate Publisher


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