What is and isn’t sexist? 

Jamie BallardData Journalist
March 25, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

With the US languishing in 53rd place in the Global Gender Gap Index, the country still has a long way to go before men and women can be considered equal. Part of closing the gender gap will involve educating people as to what is and isn’t sexist behavior. Now a new YouGov survey shows that, across a list of 9 examples, men are less likely than women to consider behaviors sexist. 

The widest gap between men and women is on the topic of whether or not it is sexist to assume someone is physically strong or weak based on their gender. Women (48%) are almost twice as likely as men (28%) to say this assumption would always be sexist. Another 20% of women and 23% of men think this is usually sexist, with some exceptions.  

Men and women tend to be most closely aligned on the matter of whether it is sexist for people to have different levels of access to services or funding because of their gender. About seven in 10 women (71%), and almost as many men (67%) say that this would always or usually be sexist.  

Is it sexist to tell jokes with male and female stereotypes?  

Most women (62%) and men (58%) say they’ve been in a situation where someone told a joke featuring stereotypes about their gender – but is that a problem? 

A majority of women (62%) surveyed believe that it is always (35%) or usually (27%) sexist to tell a joke featuring female stereotypes. Men are slightly less inclined to say the same – 27% think jokes that rely on female stereotypes are always sexist, 22% say that they usually are.  

Men also tend to be less likely than women to say jokes featuring male stereotypes are sexist. Just under half (47%) of men think these jokes are always (22%) or usually (25%) sexist. Women are 8 points more likely (55%) to say jokes that feature male stereotypes are always (30%) or usually (25%) sexist.  

 Women are more likely than men to say they have personal experiences with situations they believe are sexist  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women are more likely than men to say they have personally experienced most of the situations YouGov asked about in this survey.  

Women (50%) are more likely than men (41%) to say it is sexist for people to ask a young woman when she will have children. It’s also something women are far more likely to have had personal experience with: 50% of women say someone has assumed that they have or want children, with 28% saying this has happened to them multiple times. Half as many (25%) men overall have had the same experience, and only 12% say this has happened to them more than three times.  

Women are also more likely than men to say they people have made assumptions about their intelligence because of their gender (45% vs 29%), and are especially more likely to say it has happened more than three times (25% of women and 13% of men).  

See full results here.  

Related: Six in ten women say they do all or most of the chores in their home 

Methodology: Total sample size was 1,282 US adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 18 - 19, 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).   
 
Image: Getty 

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