In March 2015 the European Commission, as a part of the governing body of the EU, issued a report on the perception of Gender Equality by the citizens of the European Union. It was part of the Eurobarometer survey program. The general Eurobarometer Surveys are published twice a year and examine a broad array of political and societal questions by conducting interviews with residents of every EU country. This report on Gender Equality is a Special Eurobarometer. These are held irregularly and focus on one specific subject. All reports are made publicly available (see the link below).
I wanted to use this blog post to have a look on some of the general perceptions of (in)equality as expressed by EU citizens. This should be a good starting point for the understanding of gender equity and I’m sure, that more interesting questions will arise from this.
94% of EU citizens agree that “[…] equality between men and women is a fundamental right […]” (pp. 10f) and 91% think, that the problem of inequality has to be tackled to reach the goal of a fairer society (see table 1). These answers show a very clear support towards gender equity. Still 62% of the respondents see inequalities between men and women as widespread (see table 2). It seems that there is a big gap between what people wish for and what they perceive as the is-state.
Source: European Commission 2015, p. 11
Source: European Commission 2015, p. 12
Based on the idea, that stereotypes could be one the main sources for actual inequalities, the interviewers asked the respondents in what areas of everyday life they perceive gender stereotypes as most prevalent. Only 4% see no stereotypes at all while 51% perceive them as being widespread in the workplace. In the opinion of the EU citizens, men and women in the fields of sports and school are less subjected to stereotypes than in other areas of everyday life (see table 3). Corresponding with this assessment, 53% feel that the paygap between genders – women receive less money for the same work – is one of the most pressing inequality issues in the EU (p. 21).
Source: European Commission 2015, p. 9
The participants of the survey were also asked how to increase the percentage of women who participate in the labor market (see table 4). The more prominent answers are connected to closing the paygap between men and women and the issues of compatibility between working life and caring for children and family. This question was contrasted by asking how to increase the time men spent in household and childcare activities (see table 5). Some issues of combining family and work life also arose here. But what the respondents saw as the most important is a change of attitude by men and in the workplace enviroment (answer 3).
Source: European Commission 2015, p. 18
Source: European Commission 2015, p. 20
The survey includes many more questions that are as important as the ones examined in this post, especially a big block on violence against women (the problem the respondents saw as the most pressing), but including them all would go above and beyond the scope of this blog post.
Source: European Commission (2015). Gender Equality. Summary. Special Eurobarometer 428. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_428_sum_en.pdf. [05.05.2015].
General Information on the Eurobarometer Surveys and access to reports: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm