Gender stereotypes persist among young Canadians
Published Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:50PM EDT
A new report finds some young Canadians still have stereotypical views about the roles of men and women.
International development agency Plan Canada commissioned surveys of the viewpoints of thousands of youth from around the world, including 1,000 Canadian youth between the ages of 12 and 17.
They found that while 91 per cent felt that equality between men and women in Canada is good for both boys and girls, some youth still subscribed to gender stereotypes. For example:
- 48 per cent of the youth thought men should be responsible for earning income and providing for the family
- 31 per cent of the boys felt that a woman's most important role is to take care of her home and cook for the family.
In the U.K. meanwhile, only 15 per cent of young boys that a woman's most important role is to take care of her home and cook for the family.
Canadian adults seemed to share similar views about gender role as their younger counterparts:
- 43 per cent of the adult respondents said men should be responsible for earning income and providing for the family
- 24 per cent believe a woman's most important role is taking care of her home and cooking.
Rosemary McCarney, the president and CEO of Plan Canada, says she was surprised to see that gender stereotypes still persist, even in young Canadians.
"We were shocked. While Canadian boys said yes, they believe in gender equality etc. in large numbers, when you kind of dug down a little deeper, they still conform to very traditional stereotype roles," she told CTV's Canada AM.
The survey also found that a full 45 per cent of Canadian youth agree that "to be a man you need to be tough," compared to just 13 per cent of youth in the U.K. In Rwanda, only 26 per cent of youth think men need to be tough.
"Over half of Canadian boys were saying that to be a man means taking more risks. These are harmful behaviours and harmful thoughts of boys. And it ends up leading to high-risk behaviour for boys," said McCarney.
"It's not working. We need boys and girls, men and women, parents and educators to really work on the issue of these traditional roles, because it puts us a lot of pressure on boys and it holds back girls from reaching their full potential."
The survey also found 66 per cent of youth felt pressure from peers and friends to conform to traditional roles. Nearly half said the pressure came from media, while one-third think it came from family.
The new survey is part of Plan International's latest report on the state of the world's girls. This year's report focuses on how boys and men can be part of the global solutions to gender inequality.
The report notes that poverty places a heavy burden on many fathers, husbands and sons, because in most societies as heads of the household men are expected to be the principal providers in their families.
But research shows that when men treat their wives as equal partners, are active parents, and take an interest in their children's work, both boys and girls benefit.
"Boys are part of the solution and we need to engage them because frankly, all our research is showing that gender inequality doesn't work for them either," says McCarney.