Around 20,000 people in 28 countries were surveyed for the study which coincided with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership's World Questions event that included guests like Hilary Clinton.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on November 13, 2019

A new study is suggesting that employers are to blame for preventing gender equality by still paying males more than females.

The top three barriers for gender equality in Australia according to a survey by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Policy Institute and Ipsos are:

  1. Employers not doing enough to close the gender pay gap (23%)
  2. Employers not promoting enough women to senior positions (20%)
  3. A lack of employer support for women in balancing work and care responsibilities (19%)

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Around 20,000 people in 28 countries were surveyed for the study asking a variety of questions about gender equality, which marks the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership’s World Questions event series, being held at King’s College, London, UK. The event will begin with a conversation between the former First Lady of the US, Hillary Clinton, and Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, on 13 November.

Hillary Clinton

The global findings found that 18% of men are twice as likely as women (9%) to say that gender equality has already been achieved in their country.

Around the world, people are more likely to say intelligence is important for women to get ahead (28%) than for men (20%), and that never giving up is key (25% for women against 16% for men).

Women (15%) are twice as likely as men (7%) to have their looks cited as a key factor in their success. Over a third of people in Russia (35%) say that women’s looks are important in helping them get ahead, the highest in the survey.

By contrast, personal networks are seen as more important for men’s success. Globally, 22% say being connected is key for men, compared with 13% who say the same for women. And 18% say political connections are particularly important for men, versus 8% for women.

People in China are most likely to think that women and men are already equal in their country, with 28% saying this, compared with an average of 13% globally.

Countries most likely to blame the government for not doing enough to promote gender equality include Turkey (32%), Brazil (29%) and Hungary, Peru, South Africa and Spain (all on 25%).

Men and boys not being educated about the importance of gender quality is the most cited reason for inequality between women and men in Mexico (38%), Argentina (34%), Chile (34%) and Peru (39%).

“Decades of research has shown that men have an easier route to the top than women, and it’s reassuring that the public now recognises this – but concrete action is needed if we’re to level the playing field. Our survey also reveals that people see employers as a key barrier to equality, and they’re right that the world of work is holding many women back. Expanding access to flexible working and unbiased recruitment processes would be good places to start,” said Professor Rosie Campbell, Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.

Julia Gillard

Gillard, who is the Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said: “This research reinforces that people understand men are more likely to get ahead in life because of the old boys’ network, while women have to be significantly better and more intelligent to even get a foot in the door. Hillary Clinton is someone who knows a great deal about being more qualified, competent and hard working than her male peers. I’m delighted to welcome her to King’s College London to launch the World Questions event series with a discussion about her experience as a leader and what needs to change so that more women can follow her lead.”

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