Gender Compass here but we still need to navigate roadblocks


Australians' attitudes toward gender equality have been revealed in a new study, which researchers say is a wake-up call for the country.


Plan International Australia's Gender Compass reveals what ordinary Australians really think about gender equality. A first-of-its-kind project segments the Australian public into six groups according to their beliefs, values, motivators, policy preferences and behaviours around gender equality. 

While researchers say there are signs of progress on some issues, on others we still have a long way to go.

Plan International Australia CEO, Susanne Legena said while there has been a great momentum around gender equality in Australia in 2023 - from the groundswell of support for the Matildas to the success of the Barbie film - there is still a long way to go on the ground.

“Gender Compass is a critical new tool that allows us to understand how we can talk about gender justice with Australians in a way that makes a difference. It is a pulse-check, but it is also a wake-up call, because the impacts of gender inequality are still invisible to too many Australians,” said Susanne.

“Just this month we have seen significant moments that signal change and progress for women: the tsunami of support for the Matildas that swelled around Australia as they soared to success in the World Cup; and the important discussions and decisions around gender pay gaps and funding for women’s sport that these mighty athletes ignited. As Barbie hit cinemas and quickly surpassed a billion dollars in ticket sales – becoming one of the highest grossing films of all time – we saw feminism and the patriarchy being talked about by everyday people around the world. 

“And yet, we also see enraging, unacceptable roadblocks. Here in Australia, violence against women continues at alarming rates with one woman, on average, murdered every week by a current or former partner. And women still take home an annual salary on average $25,596 lower than their male counterparts. 

“Current projections indicate that the next five generations of girls and women will never see gender equality. Everyone should be alarmed by this. We need to do better. We must come together to beat the clock on gender inequality.”

Gender Compass was developed by Plan International Australia in collaboration with research partners Dr Rebecca Huntley and Heartward Strategic from an online survey of 2,522 Australians aged 16 years and over, conducted in mid-2023. 

Dr Huntley said: “Gender Compass is poised to become an indispensable tool in the arsenal of individuals and institutions who seek to understand and shift attitudes and behaviours towards gender equality."

Key Findings

The survey, which was completed by Plan International Australia and funded by Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Trawalla Foundation and Minderoo Foundation – segmented the responses into six main categories, called the Gender Compass:

  • Trailblazer (19% of respondents)
  • Hopeful (24%)
  • Moderate (23%)
  • Conflicted (12%)
  • Indifferent (6%)
  • Rejector (17%) 

The scale essentially represents the political views of the respondents regarding gender equality, with Trailblazers leaning more towards the left, all the way to the right, where we have the Rejector — those who believe “gender equality is a non-issue and change for equality for women has gone too far,” as the study describes.

This research revealed broad community support for a gender equal society with almost universal recognition (90%) of the importance of Australian women having the same rights, opportunities and outcomes as men; as well as a widespread belief that all of us benefit from a society that is fair to all genders. 

While the majority are also in favour of some action being taken by individuals, businesses or governments to improve equality, the community is not at all unified in its views on how much further we need to go to reach equality (the magnitude of change needed) – in fact, 59% of Australians believe we are very close to achieving equality, if not already there. 

Other findings included:

  • 60% agree that women’s sport should have equal standing with men’s 
  • 33% had actively supported gender equality in their workplace 
  • 44% had taken actions relating to speaking up when witnessing gender inequality 
  • 52% had taken actions relating to speaking out about gender inequality. 
  • 59% believe that gender equality has mostly or already been achieved. 
  • 53% agree it is important for Australians to stand up for gender equality in other countries 
  • 24% of Australians said that their mental health had been impacted by their gender 
Download the full report HERE
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