By Guest Author 08/03/2022


Suzanne Manning, President of Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa – National Council of Women NZ

International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022 has a theme of #BreakTheBias, by calling on people to to work collectively for a gender equal world. A first step is being aware of the bias that exists, and acknowledging the problem.

The Gender Attitudes survey is an ongoing monitoring tool from Gender Equal NZ, led by the National Council of Women NZ, which seeks to measure and therefore raise awareness of the gender bias that exists within Aotearoa. This ongoing survey was conducted by Research NZ in 2017 and 2019, and the 2021 results have just been released.

The 2021 survey was conducted with 1250 respondents who were representative of the Aotearoa population in terms of gender, age, region and ethnicity. The results show that very little is changing.

Image: Research NZ

Here I highlight a few results from the survey.

The result of 79 per cent of respondents agreeing with the statement that “Gender equality is a fundamental right” hasn’t changed in the three surveys. While the good news is that over three quarters agree with this statement, it is hard to fathom why one fifth of respondents in each year continue to disagree. In their eyes, if gender equality is not a fundamental right, what is it? An optional extra? A “nice to have” for those people who “deserve it”?

Image: Research NZ

The survey asked for views about personal attributes of various genders. What do New Zealanders think is appropriate? According to the 2021 survey, 17 per cent of respondents think that women, more than men, should be caring, be able to cry in front of friends, and be physically attractive. In contrast, between 12 per cent and 15 per cent of respondents think that men should be in charge, have a position of power, put on a brave face in public and be sporty.

Image: Research NZ

These attitudes limit all genders, by placing unrealistic expectations on people. Such attitudes are unhealthy, and are not mana-enhancing for those who hold these views or the people they seek to judge with these views. With International Women’s Day today, Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa – National Council of Women NZ is calling for more urgent action on gender attitudes in this country. We want our children to think that #MeToo is irrelevant to them; we want gender equality in a generation. Is that really too much to ask?

Suzanne Manning, President of Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa – National Council of Women NZ