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Youth veering away from gender stereotypes

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 05:01 AM August 21, 2017

When it comes to how society, particularly those in the Asia Pacific region, views gender stereotypes, or what defines masculinity and femininity, it seems that times, well, they are a-changin’. A new study reveals that today’s youth are less likely to conform to these stereotypes compared to their elders.

Conducted by international internet-based market research firm YouGov, the study shows there is a generational divide between respondents aged 16-29 and those who are over 45 when it comes to their perception of their gender identity.

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“On a scale of zero to 10, where zero is completely masculine and 10 is completely feminine, there is a 17-percent gap between male 16- to 29-year-olds (39 percent) and those over 45 (56 percent) in those who define themselves as either completely masculine or near-completely masculine,” the YouGov report reads. “This divide is also seen among women. While just under a third of women (31 percent) aged 16-29 say they are almost entirely feminine, nearly half (49 percent) of women over 45 do.”

Attitudes toward masculinity and femininity also differ between generations.
While 67 percent of those aged 45 and above see masculinity as either very positive or fairly positive, this falls to 58 percent among 16-29 year olds. The divide is more muted when it comes to attitudes to femininity, but the trend is the same: 58 percent of those 45 and above view it as positive, compared with 54 percent of 16- to 29-year-olds.

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“Young people are also less likely to believe that they conform to gender stereotypes than older generations: [Only] 43 percent of 16- to 29-year-olds either strongly or slightly agree that they conform to gender stereotypes, compared with 51 percent of those over 45,” the report reads.
These respondents, however, seem to agree when it comes to the traits that constitute masculinity and femininity.

Given a list of 21 traits, 16- to 19-year-olds chose as their top three strength (55 percent), assertiveness (27 percent), and intelligence (24 percent) for masculinity. The 45 and above group, on the other hand, chose strength (56 percent), assertiveness (31 percent) and decisiveness (25 percent).

When it comes to femininity, both age groups chose the same top traits: sensitive, emotional, and affectionate.
These traits, though, are perceived by the majority of respondents (56 percent) to be socially constructed instead of being inherent.

“This view is most strongly held in the Philippines (68 percent), Thailand (60 percent) and Australia (58 percent), but is less widely held in Vietnam, where only 39 percent of respondents agree,” the report states.

As for equality between the sexes? Overall, what the study found was that Asia Pacific residents, regardless of age, are at odds when it comes to their opinion of gender stereotypes and their societal impact. Less than four in 10 (39 percent) agreed that gender roles were a barrier to equality, but it’s not a view held by all nationalities. Thailand, Singapore and Australia seem to think so, as almost half of their respondents agreed to this notion, but in Indonesia, less than a quarter said yes.

With access to millions of people worldwide, YouGov, for this study, gathered data online between July 5 and 13 from almost 9,000 respondents in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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