Plenty of people, whatever their gender, have strong feelings about gender equality. Some see it as an issue that – particularly in relatively affluent countries like Australia – doesn’t need to be prioritised. Others say that the wage gap and violence against women statistics demonstrate we still have many gender-related issues that urgently need dealing with in this country.
But how do young people in Australia feel about the issue? National broadcaster Triple J recently asked over 10,000 Australians between 18 and 29 years old about what mattered most to them in the upcoming election. The results were surprising…
Image credit: Triple J Hack, 'What do you care about this election?'
It might not be a strictly ‘representative sample’ of the country’s population, but still – we’re talking about 10,000 people here! – That’s a lot of you who rate gender equality as (the most important, if not...) a major political issue. We decided to hit the streets (i.e. 'the Facebook') and ask some of our community a few questions about their experience of gender equality (or inequality)…
As a heterosexual female Imogen felt she had so far been given relatively equal opportunities as males, but that gender was very much a part of the discussions she and her friends had.
We often feel so frustrated that we live in a society where other people are suffering inequality and injustice
"I believe gender equality is a serious issue that needs to be prioritised more within schools and politics", Imogen said. She also felt that while she felt society was becoming more educated about the LGBTIQ community, there was still "inequality in regards to job opportunities and marriage rights" and that was equally important as female/male equality.
As a heterosexual male I am not on the end that gets discriminated against but rather the one that, sadly, does the discriminating.
Oscar ackowledged that being a heterosexual male probably put him in a priveleged position, and said it was undeniable that women and transgender people – consciously by a few, and unconsciously by many – are discriminated against. He said it made him sad to think that "there are so many real issues in the world and yet some choose to focus on the most ridiculous and inconsequential things like someon's gender".
How does gender inequality affect me? I suppose it isolates me from my peers.
"Not everyone is willing to listen with sympathy to wrongs committed by bigotry", Drew said, and pointed out that gender equality can get complicated when you're amongst friends or people who may not share your views, for example "being the only person in the room not laughing at verbal or physical abuse". This raises an interesting point about what actions we can take as a bystander.
We all have a role to play in creating an equitable society! ...How to go about it is the hard part.
Justin believes "it will take a lot of listening and reflection. It will mean being harsh with ourselves". Like any social change this is no doubt the case, but what other social issues have affected approximately half the planet's population? And many say that, yes, males are in a position of privilege but are also disadvantaged by the same rigid gender roles affecting women - from limiting their career opportunities to defining the way men communicate and the expectations we put on them.
There are still many professions that have a disparity in payment for women and men
As Katina is planning on entering the 'building and construction' industry, she felt gender equality - and specifically the wage gap - needed attention.
Whether we see it as an important issue or an irrelevant issue, the fact is gender equality is an issue. Hopefully, even those of us who don't feel it affects us directly, can ackowledge our understanding of gender affects others. To understand more, read some of our articles on gender.