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6 in 10 women feel the world is biased against them

Women discussing equity

It’s International Women’s Day today where globally we celebrate the progress of women’s equality within the socioeconomic, political and cultural spaces. This year’s theme focuses on “Breaking the Bias”.

Through our Catalyst, research for good, program we surveyed the views of a representative sample of adults in Australia, UK and the US to see what they think about gender inequality and how big a problem it still is. 

The response was disappointingly consistent. One in two AU consumers (48%) believe that the world is biased against women compared to 56% in the UK and 65% in the US, suggesting that as a society we still have a way to go in solving this issue.

to what extent do you agree the world is biased against women NET AU, US, UK

When you break the data by gender, you see that a higher percentage of women versus men feel that the world is biased against women, which is no surprise given women are more likely to experience these biases on a daily basis. 

Some of the biases and discriminations that can exist within a workplace include unequal pay, sexual harassment, disparity in promotions, microagressions and access to resources/training. 

to what extent do you agree the world is biased against women M vs F

When asked how this inequality against women takes place within a workplace, ‘pay’ – where women were being paid less than their male counterparts (who were at the same level or juniors) and ‘being overlooked for promotion’ were the two answers that really stood out across the board. This was followed by dealing with mistreatment in the forms of harassment and microaggression. 

The data suggests that the toxic culture that is being discussed in various forums is still very much alive in many workplaces today, despite the progress we have seen over time and the visibility given to these issues by events such as IWD. 

is the government doing enough to safeguard against women

What also stood out within this research was the pervasive view across these three markets that governments were not doing enough to safeguard women against gender inequality. Over 40% of respondents didn’t think their current government is doing enough to safeguard women against gender inequality. 

More damning is the fact that there is little faith in governments to act to address these issues. Among those who believe the government is not doing enough, a staggering 75% of AU and UK respondents don’t trust their current government to put policies in place to address gender inequality, while 68% of Americans felt the same. 

This resounding vote of no confidence was similar across different age groups and gender (male or female respondents). This indicates a low level of trust in each country’s respective government administrations to act in this important area. 

The mistrust within Australian respondents is likely a result of Australian government’s ongoing struggle with serious allegations of sexual harassment and toxic culture relating to parliament itself as a workplace. 

The negativity of this sentiment overall is perhaps not surprising given the current state of representation of women within government bodies in each country, sitting at around 30%. Australia is currently ranked 56th, UK 47th and US 74th in the world when it comes to female representation in parliament, according to figures from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Do you trust the government will put policies in place to address gender inequality

Whilst these insights cannot be looked upon as anything but a depressing indictment of the state of society, they represent an opportunity for private businesses to continue to lead the charge for change. As Brenda Gaddi of Women of Colour Australia so eloquently puts it:

“This is the time for leadership within various companies across the UK, US and AU to ensure they create a space and an environment for women that is psychologically safe and promotes equity and gender equality across teams. This can't be achieved unless corporate Australia puts policies in place at all levels and creates a culture that supports all women including First Nations women and women with intersecting and overlapping social, economic and political identities. By being transparent in their reporting and results, and most importantly leadership teams have to lead by example and be held accountable for their actions and behaviours.”

By Mona Fleming
Growth Marketing Lead, Glow

About Catalyst

Catalyst is an open-source research program investigating consumer concerns about social and environmental issues. The program is building a body of knowledge to fuel conversation, action and behavior change by supporting businesses with insights that fuel their own programs of action.  

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Glow is a proud partner and research technology provider to the Catalyst program, which is also supported by the brands below.