Gender Equal NZ, led by The National Council of Women of NZ – Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aoteaora, has conducted four Gender Attitudes Surveys with Research NZ, in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023.
The survey tests attitudes around gender roles – at home, at school, at work and in the community and gives us a biennial snapshot of where we’re at in New Zealand on gender.
On 25 September 2023, National Council of Women of New Zealand President Dr Suzanne Manning was joined by Minister for Women Hon Jan Tinetti, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo and Emanuel Kalafatelis, Managing Partner at Research New Zealand, to launch the fourth survey in the series at our online event.
You can also view the event video of the 2023 Survey launch.
2017-2021: Change is slow
The Gender Attitudes Survey 2023 is the latest biennial survey in a longitudinal series that started in 2017. The baseline survey showed that while most New Zealanders recognised gender equality as a fundamental right for all, a pocket of New Zealanders still held onto outdated and traditional views about gender stereotypes. The 2019 and 2021 surveys showed only slight changes in attitudes throughout the country. In fact, taken as a whole, the survey series shows trends towards increasingly conservative attitudes about gender.
2023: A report card
The 2023 Gender Attitudes Survey is essentially a report card gauging Aotearoa New Zealand’s progress in achieving gender equality, and showcasing opinions about gender norms. Now with four surveys over five years, trends are emerging.
It may come as no surprise that female respondents in the survey were less satisfied with the current state of affairs in Aotearoa than male respondents. This finding was repeated throughout all questions in the survey – consistently, men had a more optimistic opinion of the status quo than did women.
For example, in 2023, 81% of all respondents agreed that gender equality was a fundamental right (79% in 2021, 79% in 2019) , and 48% of respondents thought that gender equality had ‘for the most part been achieved’ (40% in 2021, 42% in 2019).
However, breaking down the 2023 data we see that 83% of men agreed gender equality was a fundamental right compared with 80% of women. The split is greater between those thinking that gender equality had ‘for the most part been achieved’ with 57% of men agreeing and only 40% of women.
More concerning is the difference in attitudes between men and women when it comes to different forms of gendered violence. A new question in 2023 asked about online harassment, including social media, and most respondents agreed that it was a serious problem in Aotearoa (74%). However, men were less likely to agree that ‘online harassment has an effect on how women are treated in real life’ (66% men agreed, 76% women agreed) and less likely to agree that ‘women are exposed to more online harassment than men’ (57% men, 63% women).
Further, rape myths persist, with 30% of respondents believing that ‘rape happens when a man’s sex drive is out of control’. Yet the breakdown by gender shows that 36% of men agreed with this statement but only 25% of women agreed.
Building from the concerning trends of the last two surveys, the 2023 survey confirms that there is still significant work to do before it can be said that gender equality in Aotearoa New Zealand has been achieved. The difference between men and women in perceptions of our progress highlight the gaps and discrepancies in our understanding of the change that is still required.
If we are to make meaningful progress towards gender equality, we will need all genders to step up as allies and demand change. It’s time for action. With our combined effort, we can make gender equality reality.
For more insights into the data from the full survey you can use Research New Zealand’s Gender Attitudes Survey e-reporting tool.
An event video of our launch of the 2023 survey is available on our YouTube channel.