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Just one in five people in Ireland believe women are treated equally in the home

Universal State-funded childcare was identified as the top priority to achieve gender equality in Ireland.

Image: Alamy

JUST ONE IN five people in Ireland believe women are treated equally in the home, according to the results of a new poll. 

Respondents to polling by The Good Information Project/Ireland Thinks on 7 January were asked whether men and women were treated equally in Ireland in a number of settings.

More than half said they believed there is equality in access to healthcare, but just 22.6% believe men and woman are treated equally in the home and 22.8% believe they are treated equally in politics. Just 13% of women polled think women are treated equally in the home. 

The government has committed to a referendum on the removal of an article of the Constitution on the place of women in the home, but it is not clear when this will take place. 

Overall, 31.8% of respondents to the poll said they think there is equality in the workplace, though just 18% of women chose this option, compared to 46% of men polled.

The poll revealed a gap between middle class perceptions and working class perceptions when it comes to media representation, with 42% of those identifying as middle class believing that men and women are treated in media portrayal equally compared with 30% of working class people believing the same thing.

Almost 29% of respondents said they did not think there was equality in any of the areas listed, with women (38%) more likely to choose this answer than man (19%).

When asked about the biggest landmark in gender equality in the history of the Irish State so far, 27% of respondents said it was equal voting rights, while 26% said it was the lifting of the marriage ban, 18% said it was repealing the 8th Amendment, 16% said the availability of contraception and 9% said it was legalisation of divorce

Women, low income earners and those aged over 65 were marginally more likely to identify the lifting of the marriage ban as the most important landmark. Men polled were more likely to say that the biggest landmark was equal voting rights.

Those aged 25-34 were more likely to say that repealing the 8th Amendment was the standout moment for gender equality in Irish history. 

The poll revealed that overall 44% of people believe women are treated somewhat less favourably, while 24% said women are treated much less favourably in Irish society.

One in five people believe women and men are treated equally.

While the majority of people who responded to the poll said they believe women are not treated equally, the result was heavily skewed by gender: 86% of women said that women were treated less favourably than men – including 34% who said that women were treated much less favourably, compared with 13% of men. 

Kevin Cunningham, lecturer at TU Dublin and managing director of Ireland Thinks said it was interesting to see the gender gaps in the polling results.

“When you look at what men think and what women think about gender equality, on the one hand a majority of men recognise these differences but on the other hand there is a gap between perceptions between the genders,” he said.

“There also appear to be some class/income differences in perceptions and priorities, it’s a really fascinating set of results.”

The poll also showed disparities between supporters of different political parties. 69% of Fine Gael voters and 55% of Fianna Fáil voters believe women are treated somewhat or much less favourably.

For other political parties these levels varied:

  • Sinn Féin: 70%
  • Labour: 85%
  • Green Party: 96% 
  • Social Democrats: 88%
  • Solidarity-PBP: 98%
  • Aountú: 32%
  • Independent: 66%

Supporters of left-wing political parties and people who identify as working class are more likely to feel that women are treated less favourably than men, the poll revealed.

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Respondents were asked to choose two top priorities to achieve in terms of gender equality in Ireland. Universal State-funded childcare and increased penalties for violence and abuse of women topped the list. 

Increased penalties for violence and abuse was the top answer for women who were polled (54%) – particularly among the 18-24 age group – while the most popular answer among men (53%) was universal childcare. 

Overall, 14.5% of people said the next priority should be sponsorship of women to enter traditionally male-centric careers, while 14.%% said it should be gender quotas for the make-up of the Cabinet.

Gender quotas on board membership in business was chosen by 8.8%, while 12.6% said none of these options was a priority to achieve in terms of gender equality.

 This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

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