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New Survey Finds Widespread Gender Inequity, Despite Support for Equality

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project in association with the International Herald Tribune recently found that while global support for gender equality is high, gender inequalities still exist in many countries. The survey, which was conducted over the course of a month in 22 countries, examines in-depth attitudes towards gender equality. The survey found that despite a general agreement that women and men should have equal rights, many worldwide believe that men should be given preference when it comes to jobs and higher education, and that life is generally better for men than it is for women, according to the Pew Research Center.

The survey found that in nations where gender equity is already mandated, women often feel stifled by a lack of real advancement, according to the New York Times. Professor Herminia Ibarra, co-author of the 2010 Corporate Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum, said this is because, "women in the United States and Europe are shouldering major responsibilities at home and at work simultaneously, and this makes for stress and a low quality of life," reported the New York Times.

Additionally, in the United States, many more men than women believe that the nation has achieved equality, while many more women than men believe that more work needs to be done. In France, where 100 percent of French women and 99 percent of French men support equal rights, 75 percent of women reported that they feel that men there have a better life, the highest statistic of that kind, according to the New York Times. Ibarra said this is because, in France, "there are still very few women running large organizations, and business culture remains resolutely a boys' club."

Divergent ideas of gender equity were most consistently found in Muslim countries, where men and women respondents differed on the importance of higher education for girls and a woman's right to work outside the home, according to the survey. Further, in largely Muslim countries, as well as China, India, South Korea and Nigeria, "solid majorities agree that women should be able to work outside the home; yet, most also agree that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce," reported Pew. For example, according to the survey, 77 percent of Jordanian men believe their sex is more entitled to a job in tough economic times. 56 percent of Jordanian women hold similar views.

Nigeria was the only country where less than half (45 percent) of the survey's respondents said that women should have equal rights. In 13 of the countries surveyed, over 90 percent of the respondents said they favored equality of the sexes. According to the New York Times, in only 3 countries did a majority of respondents say that men and women have actually attained a similar quality of life: Mexico, Indonesia, and Russia.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 to 5 points for each country surveyed. In most of the 22 countries where the poll was administered, between 700-1,300 adults were surveyed either in person or by telephone in April and May of this year.

Media Resources: New York Times 6/30/10; Pew Research Center 7/1/10

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