‘Reality gap’ identified in gender equality survey on what Canadians think vs. experience

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As the International Women’s Day approaches, a new gender equality survey suggests there’s a “reality gap when it comes to what Canadians think versus what they actually experience.

According to an annual “state of the nation” report published this week from Bumble, a dating and social networking app, nearly half (49 per cent) of Gen Z believes that equality between women and men is improving in Canada, but that women are still way behind men.

Of the 2,500 adult Canadians included in the survey, nearly all (93 per cent) agreed on a definition of gender equality; that men and women are equal and should be given equal opportunities in all things.

The same percentage of respondents agreed that improving women’s rights makes the world a better place for everyone, Bumble said in a news release Wednesday. However, 79 per cent of them — including 86 per cent of women surveyed — believe that women have to compromise between career, relationship and family in a way men do not.

This suggests what Bumble calls a “reality gap” between beliefs and experience.

When it comes to career equality, the survey found that there is also a discrepancy between what people expect versus what they are experiencing in the workforce.

According to the survey, 84 per cent of women believe that inequality in child-care roles leads to inequality in career achievement, a figure that was “noticeably” lower for men, at 77 per cent.

The majority of respondents said that taking maternity leave has a negative impact on women’s career opportunities, and 78 per cent of them believe that mothers feel more guilty spending time at work than fathers do.

The report also looked into relationship equality and found that 87 per cent of respondents believe sharing power equally leads to more intimacy and better sex.

Countering an old-fashioned belief, four in five (92 per cent) of surveyed Canadians said there’s nothing wrong with a woman making the first move when it comes to dating, but one-third still think men should take the lead.

Respondents were also asked about financial equality, and the survey also found that 82 per cent of Canadians believe that lack of financial independence is a major reason women stay in relationships when they are unhappy. Bumble said 65 per cent of those polled think that social structures and systems make women financially dependent on men, despite what respondents said about their belief that women and men are equal.

Bumble’s news release did not mention whether the survey asked respondents questions about LGTBQ2S+ relationships.

“In addition to chemistry and compatibility, in order to create a healthy, enduring relationship you also need trust, friendship, and respect – qualities that thrive when equality is built into the foundation of a connection.” Bumble’s sex and relationships expert Shan Boodram said in a news release published Wednesday.

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