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

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for Colwood man last seen in September

Geoffrey Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

BC Transit confirmed on Dec. 1 that a Langford employee has tested positive for COVID-19. (Courtesy of BC Transit)
Langford transit worker tests positive for COVID-19

Island Health is conducting contact tracing for the case

The Capital Regional District and the Habitat Acquisition Fund have agreed to partner on the purchase of the $3.4-million Mountain View Forest in Saanich to establish a new regional park. (Photo courtesy the Habitat Acquisition Trust)
CRD, Habitat Acquisition Trust to spend $3.4M on 20-hectare forest park in Saanich

Mountian Road Forest property to be conserved as regional park

Victoria police have recovered over 30 keys and key fobs after a executing a search warrant Nov. 27. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VicPD finds fistfuls of keys during search

Anyone who recognizes the keys can call the non-emergency line

The BCCDC has added Air Canada Jazz flight 8081 on Nov. 26 to its flight exposure list. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
New COVID-19 exposure on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Rows four to 10 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8081 on Nov. 26 were exposed

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await Commissioner decision on COVID-19 case information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is also the minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

The first of two earthquakes near Alaska on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, is shown in blue. (USGS)
No tsunami risk after two earthquakes near Alaska

Both earthquakes hit near the U.S. state on Dec. 1

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

Most Read