A study released on 1 February 2024 by Kings College London has shown that the divide in views on gender between young men and women has widened, compared with the older generations.
While 68% of women between 16-29 believe that it is harder to be a woman today, only 35% of men agreed. Within this age group, one in six men say that feminism has done more harm than good, compared with one in 11 women.
The study found that 37% of men aged 16 to 29 say “toxic masculinity” is an unhelpful phrase, roughly double the 19% of young women who feel this way. Correspondingly, young women (47%) are more likely than young men (29%) to find it a helpful term. By contrast, views among older age groups vary less by gender. Despite this, older men are more likely than younger men to say “toxic masculinity” is an unhelpful term.
One in five men aged 16 to 29 who have heard of Andrew Tate say they have a favourable view of him. This percentage (21%) is three times the share of women in this age group who think favourably of Tate (7%) and, men aged 30 to 59 (7%) who share the same proportion. These numbers are far greater than the proportion of men aged 60+ who have heard of Tate and think of him favourably, which falls at 2%. Despite this, 61% of young men still feel unfavourably towards Tate.
Despite being more socially liberal, men of the younger generation were revealed to be no more supportive of action on gender equality than older men.
Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said:
“This is a new and unusual generational pattern – normally, it tends to be the case that younger generations are consistently more comfortable with emerging social norms, as they grew up with these as a natural part of their lives. For example, in equality debates of the past, such as whether men should take the jobs and women stay at home, it is older generations that are more divided by gender, while there is hardly any difference between men and women in younger generations.
“It has to be said that larger proportions of young men still think it’s harder to be a woman today, that feminism has done more good than harm and have an unfavourable view of Andrew Tate. But there is a consistent minority of between one-fifth and one-third who hold the opposite view – in stark contrast to young women, who are by far the most likely across age and gender groups to believe it is harder to be a woman in the UK and will remain so in 20 years’ time.
“This points to a real risk of fractious division among this coming generation of young – and the need to listen carefully to both. That includes much more work on understanding the challenges facing young men today, or we risk that void being filled by celebrities and influencers, and this nascent divide being exacerbated.”
Professor Rosie Campbell, Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said:
“This data shows it's not just young men's attitudes that stand out. For example, young women are much more likely than any other group to think ‘toxic masculinity’ is a helpful term, and are most pessimistic about the prospect of future progress on gender equality.
“What we are seeing is a polarisation in the attitudes of young men and women towards gender equality that matches the gender split in party support in the younger age groups, with women to the left of men. We're just at the beginning of understanding what's driving this but the fact that this group is the first to derive most of their information from social media is likely to be at least part of the explanation.”
"Students in the Quadrangle, the University of Sydney" by Sydney Uni is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
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