Gender inequality negatively affects businesses, government, families and the community – as well as individuals of all genders.

Discrimination doesn’t happen in isolation – we need to recognise the negative effects of racism, ablism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression which add to the effects of sexism.

As Kate Sheppard famously said ‘All that separates whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome’.

It’s time for all of us to question the status quo. Most of the time, we’re given two options – you’re either a man or a woman. And being a man or a woman comes with these stereotypes about being a “real man” or a “real woman”. A real man is strong, earning lots and getting laid – right? A real woman is beautiful, a good cook and someone who looks after others – right? Well – not quite.

The unequal value attached to femininity and masculinity – we usually see this reduced to women and men – leads to unequal division of power, resources and therefore opportunities.

These ideas about what makes a “real man” or a “real woman” are limiting for all of us.

They don’t allow most people to express all of who we are.  The reality is that most people have both characteristics that are seen as more masculine and characteristics that are seen as more feminine, and that’s just fine.

We’re monitoring Aotearoa New Zealand’s attitudes to gender in our longitudinal Gender Attitudes survey. The 2021 results show that a small group of our population are holding onto rigid views on gender and this is not changing much at all. In fact, some of the worrying views are increasing, like more people thinking that showing emotional or physical weakness makes a man “less of a man”.

If we could break down these rigid expectations around gender, we’d create more room for everyone. Getting rid of the norms that cause gendered violence, pay inequality, the devaluing of caregiving work and parenting and inequalities in leadership roles – just to name a few outcomes – would change our world for the better.

Join us and help us to make equality, reality.