Gender stereotypes persist in G7 countries despite desire to close the gender gap

·3-min read
While most citizens in G7 countries want to end gender inequality, certain gender stereotypes remain widespread.
While most citizens in G7 countries want to end gender inequality, certain gender stereotypes remain widespread.

The first Women's Forum Barometer, carried out by IPSOS for the Women's Forum Global Meeting (November 17-19), reveals that an overwhelming majority of citizens in G7 countries (91%) think that it's important to close the gender gap. However, the survey also showed that certain gender stereotypes still remain widespread around the world.

According to the report, reducing gender inequalities is a top priority for more than one third of citizens in G7 countries (34%), while 57% consider it important, although not a priority. Overall, all the populations surveyed agreed on this point, although with a few disparities. France and Italy had the highest percentages of respondents who consider closing the gender gap important (96%), while those in the USA (87%) and Japan (88%) seemed slightly less convinced.

Many respondents appear to be fully conscious of such inequalities, with 69% -- men and women -- admitting that women don't have access to the same salaries as their male counterparts for equivalent levels of skills and experience. Similarly, 67% agreed that women face unequal access to boards of directors, senior management or leadership positions in large companies.

Stereotypes are hard to shift

While there may be a clear desire to reduce gender inequality, certain gender stereotypes remain widespread. More than half of people polled (53%) agree that women have to accept partially sacrificing their professional careers if they want to be good mothers, while 48% think that people exaggerate gender inequalities (54% of men vs. 42% of women). Certain clichés go even further, since almost four in 10 people polled (38%) think that men's brains and women's brains are different, which can explain why men have greater aptitude for science and women for literature.

Here too, there were disparities in relation to respondents' nationalities. More than half of those in Japan (58%) and almost seven in 10 in Germany (67%) agree that if you want to be a good mother, you have to accept partly sacrificing your professional career. Over half of those in Italy (58%) thought that people exaggerate gender inequalities, and 69% of people polled in Japan consider that it's more difficult for a woman than for a man to have a successful career.

Has inequality decreased in recent years?

The report reveals that men and women have different perceptions of how certain situations faced by women for years may or may not have improved. While both men and women agree that women's accessibility to jobs traditionally perceived as being "for men" has improved (70% of men vs. 61% of women), as well as women's access to health services (61% vs. 58%), they have differing opinions on other subjects. More than half of the men polled (54%) think that equality in pay for men and women performing the same tasks has improved in their country in the last five years, compared to just 36% of women. Similarly, 32% of men think that the situation regarding violence against women has improved, compared to 20% of women.

In addition, the Barometer reveals that women have been significantly affected by the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic. Almost three quarters of women (73%) said that they are fearful of the future (compared to 63% of men), and 59% said they had experienced burn-out, anxiety and/or depression (compared to 46% of men). Respondents also reported losing confidence in themselves (43% vs. 33% of men), and having less time for themselves (40% vs. 34%).

The IPSOS Women's Forum Barometer was carried out online between August 17 and 31, 2020, surveying a sample of 3,500 people in the seven G7 countries (France, UK, USA, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada), with 500 interviews per country. Representative samples of the population aged 18+ years were surveyed in each country. Both men and women were interviewed.