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

Abbotsford residents gather at the intersection of Clearbrook Road and South Fraser Way on Tuesday to raise awareness of what they say is the mistreatment of farmers by the Indian government. Organizers say demonstrations will be ongoing daily in Abbotsford. (Maan Sidhu photo)
Abbotsford residents continue demonstrations against treatment of Indian farmers

Locals gathered at intersection of Clearbrook Road and South Fraser Way, larger event set for Sunday

The westbound lanes of Highway 1 between Clearbrook and McCallum roads were closed to traffic Wednesday morning after a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.
Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Collision takes place early Wednesday morning between Clearbrook and McCallum roads

DriveBC photo.
Westbound Highway 1 lanes in Abbotsford closed as crews investigate serious crash

Crash occurred between McCallum and Clearbrook roads at around 4 a.m., next update at 8 a.m.

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

FILE – A near empty waterfront train platform is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
TransLink disables some services for second day due to ‘suspicious network activity’

Customers cannot use credit card or debit card at fare gates or Compass card vending machines

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

Most Read