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A fifth of Australians think women are too outspoken: study

November 24, 2017 / Our Watch media team

A concerning number of Australians hold problematic beliefs about relationships, gender roles and equality that have proven links to rates of violence against women, according to new research released by Our Watch today.

Silhouettes of three women on a green background.

The research found that 21 per cent of Australians think women are becoming too outspoken, while 20 per cent think men should take control in relationships and be the head of the household. Almost a third of respondents thought men have greater sexual needs.

Despite all respondents thinking it is common for women and girls to be treated unfairly and without respect, one in four thought women’s requests for gender equality are exaggerated.

“Not only are these views themselves troubling, but plentiful evidence has shown it is these exact beliefs that create a culture where violence against women flourishes,” said Our Watch CEO, Mary Barry.

“Both local and international studies have shown time and time again that violence against women begins with inequality, disrespect and sexist attitudes, just like these,” she said.

However, the research also found that most Australians find sexist behaviours and social norms troubling.

  • More than 80 per cent said they found ‘females being paid less than a male colleague for the same work’ concerning (82%)
  • Almost 80 per cent said they found ‘a male colleague interrupting and talking over a female colleague’ concerning (78%)
  • Over 75 per cent said they found ‘a friend sharing a sexist joke on social media’ concerning (77%)

“Positively, the research indicates that Australians want support to speak up against sexism and gender discrimination,” said Ms Barry.

Our Watch is working to develop resources to support people to challenge these attitudes as part of a large-scale campaign aimed at bystanders who witness gender discrimination, and funded by the Department of Social Services. The campaign is to be launched in 2018.

“In the meantime, we encourage Australians to promote and role model equality and respect between men and women in their workplaces and in the community,” Ms Barry said.

“We can all model equality at home and in your relationships, too. If you have children, make sure they see you talking through problems in an open and respectful way and sharing jobs at home equally,” she added.

“These may seem like small actions, but if we all do our bit, we can create a culture based on equality and respect, and prevent violence against women and their children.”

Media contact

Laurelle Keough (laurelle.keough@ourwatch.org.au or 0448 844 930)

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000”

To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit Media Making Change.

Find out more about our work to end violence against women in Australia.

The evidence
Woman holding baby.