Gender stereotyping still an issue among older people

Gender stereotyping in Italy continues to be an issue, according to a new report from the national bureau of statistics based on an Istat survey about women’s participation in the labour market. The majority of respondents accept that men and women are equally capable in leadership roles and believe that more women should hold public positions. However, many – particularly among older age groups - still believe that economic support for families should be provided by men.

About the survey

On December 2013 Istat, Italy’s national bureau of statistics, and the Department for Equal Opportunities presented a report on gender stereotypes and discrimination. The report, Gender stereotypes, disclaimers and discrimination, was based on a survey of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and ethnic origin, and was conducted by Istat during the summer of 2011.

Main findings

Capability

The research showed about 80% of people surveyed did not agree that men were better managers or political leaders than women. Analysed by gender, the data showed 85% of women disagreed, and 75% of men. The study also found 87% disagreed with the statement that ‘it is not natural for a man to have a woman as superior’.

There was less consensus, and a wider gender gap, when respondents were asked about the need for more women in leading public positions. Figures showed 67.1% of respondents felt there was a need for more women in leading positions (Table 1) – 58.3% of men and 75.7% women giving this response. The survey also asked whether women leaders would have a positive impact on business and the economic situation. The study showed 52.8% of respondents agreed – 42.4% of them men and 63% women.

Table 1: Women in decision-making positions (% who agree)
 

Men

Women

Total

Generally, men are better political leaders than women

24.6

15.5

20.1

Generally, men are better managers than women

24.5

14.8

19.7

If there were more women managers, both business and the economic situation would be better

42.4

63.0

52.8

There should be more women in public positions

58.3

75.7

67.1

Source: Istat, 2013

Domestic tasks

There was consensus among men and women about domestic tasks (Table 2). Figures show 87.4% agree that when both partners work, domestic duties should be shared equally – 85.1% of men agreed with this, compared with 89.8% of women.

The consensus is even higher (89.2%) on the question of whether men should participate more in the care and education of children – the implication being that many men admit they have poor commitment to childcare.

Respondents were also asked whether family life suffered because men were too focused on their work. The survey revealed 71.7% agreed with this statement; agreement was higher among women (74.7%) than among men (68.7%).

The findings confirm the 2008–2009 Istat time-use survey findings (448 KB PDF, in Italian) among the working population. This survey showed paid work and domestic duties accounted for 31.2% of their average daily working time among men and 35.3% among women.

Table 2: Opinion on domestic task sharing (% who agree)
 

Men

Women

Total

When both partners work full time, domestic duties should be shared equally

85.1

89.8

87.4

Men should participate more in their children’s care and education

87.5

90.8

89.2

Family life suffers from the fact that men are too focused on their job

68.7

74.7

71.7

Source: Istat, 2013

Three out of four respondents say that the division of domestic duties is fair, with negligible differences among gender (Table 3).

An unfair division of tasks is generally at the expense of women, with wide consensus among both genders. Almost 20% of men and 22.8% of women say domestic tasks in their home are not fairly shared.

This imbalance was confirmed when people were asked how often they feel the effects of their double burden and excessive workload. The reply ‘often’ was given by 3.5% of men and 18.3% of women. The reply ‘sometimes’ was given by 8% of men and 28.8% of women.

Table 3: Fairness in domestic tasks sharing among partners (% who agree)
 

Men

Women

Fair for both

77.6

76.5

Unfair for my partner

19.6

0.6

Unfair for me

2.8

22.8

Source: Istat, 2013

Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are prevalent among both men and women (Table 4). More than 35% of respondents – 40% among men – believe a working mother is less able to fulfil her family role than a mother who does not engage in paid work. Almost 50% of respondents consider men should be the main contributor to family income – this figure was almost 55% among men. Men are also seen by themselves (53.3%) as less suited to domestic tasks. One in four felt men should be given priority for paid work ahead of female applicants when jobs are scarce.

Table 4: Work-related gender stereotypes by gender (% who agree)
 

Men

Women

Total

A working mother can establish an equally good relationship with her children as a non-working mother

59.7

71.3

65.6

It’s mainly the man that should provide economic family needs

54.8

44.7

49.7

Men are less suited to domestic tasks

53.3

46.2

49.7

If jobs are scarce, employers should give precedence to men over women

28.1

22

25

Source: Istat, 2013

Gaps appear wider when the data are broken down by age rather than gender (Figure 1).

Respondents aged 55 and over were more likely to regard the man as the main economic contributor to the family budget. When asked if precedence should be given to men when jobs are scarce, 17.3% among those aged 18–34 agreed, compared to 23.7% among those aged 45–54, and 39.5% among those aged 65 and over.

Figure 1: Work-related gender stereotypes by age classes

it1402049i.tmp00.jpg

Source: Istat, 2013

Commentary

The Istat report on gender stereotypes provides a unifying framework that supports explanations for poor labour market participation among women in Italy. The data also reveal territorial differences in attitudes between central and northern Italy and southern regions, including gaps in welfare provision such as childcare, and poor flexibility in working time provided by employers (IT1205029I). This report highlights the persistence of such stereotypes about and among women.

Mario Giaccone, Ires

 

 

 

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