BACKGROUND COLOUR

The importance of equal rights for women

Throughout the federal election campaign, there has been vigorous public debate about gender issues, including unacceptably high rates of violence and sexual harassment experienced by women, under-representation of women in senior positions, and continuing economic disparities. In general, Australians think that men have it easier in Australia than women, while there is still a sizable number of both men and women who think there is no difference. The majority of Australians see equality between men and women as being important, and that equal rights for women have not gone far enough.

84.9 %

84.9 per cent of Australians said that it was very important for women to have equal rights with men in Australia.

62.1 %

More than three-in-five Australian women (62.1 per cent) think that men have it easier, with only 3.5 per cent thinking that women have it easier.

56.4

The most common response given by Australians is that equal rights have not gone far enough, a view estimated to be held by 56.4 per cent of Australians.

9.8 %

Only 9.8 per cent of Australians think that equal rights have gone too far.

Views on who has it easier in Australia by gender of respondent, April 2022
Sources & Methodology
Variable description
Variable time span April 2022
Published by ANUPoll
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Data Source doi:10.26193/AXQPSE
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Despite gender differences in views on whether women or men have it easier, the vast majority of Australians think that equal rights for women is important.

The April 2022 ANUpoll included a set of questions on views about gender equity in Australia (in addition to the question on confidence in the various political parties on gender equity). A number of these questions come from a 2017 Pew Research survey of the American population. Although the timing of the survey was different, along with sample recruitment, it is still instructive to look at comparisons across the two countries. 

The first question asked in this module was ‘All things considered, who do you think has it easier in our country these days?’ with possible response options of men, women, or no difference. More Australians thought that men had it easier than women, but responses were quite different depending on the gender of the respondent (Figure 5). More than three-in-five Australian women (62.1 per cent) think that men have it easier, with only 3.5 per cent thinking that women have it easier. A little over a third of women (34.4 per cent) think that there is no difference. Half of Australian men (50.1 per cent) think that there is no difference between men and women, with only 11.7 per cent thinking that women have it easier. This leaves 38.3 per cent of men who think that men have it easier than do women. 

Comparing to data from the US, fewer Americans in 2017 thought that men had it easier (35 per cent) compared to Australians in 2022 (50.7 per cent). Roughly the same proportions across the two countries thought that men had it easier (9 per cent in America compared to 7.5 per cent in Australia). More Americans thought that there was no difference (56 per cent) than Australians (41.8 per cent).

Despite gender differences in views on whether women or men have it easier, the vast majority of Australians think that equal rights for women is important. When asked ‘How important, if at all, is it for women to have equal rights with men in Australia?’, 84.9 per cent of Australians said that it was very important, with a further 11.9 per cent saying that it was somewhat important. Australian women are slightly more likely to think that equal rights are very important (87.8 per cent) compared to men (81.7 per cent).

In the final question in the module, respondents were asked ‘When it comes to giving women equal rights with men, do you think Australia has gone too far, has not gone far enough or has been about right?’. The most common response given by Australians is that equal rights have not gone far enough, a view estimated to be held by 56.4 per cent of Australians. Only 9.8 per cent of Australians think that equal rights have gone too far, with 33.8 per cent thinking that it has been about right.

Seven-in-ten (70.0 percent) of women think equal rights have not gone far enough which is much higher than the four-in-ten (41.8 per cent) of men who think this. Conversely, women are less likely than men to think that equal rights have gone too far (6.0 per cent compared to 13.9 per cent) and less likely to think that they have been about right (24.1 per cent compared to 44.4 per cent).