September 22, 2010

Brazilians Upbeat About Their Country, Despite Its Problems

Chapter 4. Gender Issues

Brazilians overwhelmingly embrace gender equality, but most say their country needs to continue to make changes to give women the same rights as men.  A plurality says that life is generally better for men than it is for women in Brazil, and nearly two-thirds say that men get more opportunities than women for jobs that pay well, even when women are as qualified for the job.

Putting aside their feelings about presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff, President Lula’s chief of staff, a solid majority of Brazilians say it would be a good thing for a woman to be elected president.  About seven-in-ten among male and female respondents share this view.

Views of Gender Equality

Like nearly all publics included in the 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, Brazilians solidly embrace gender equality; 95% say women should have the same rights as men. About the same percentage (96%) agrees that women should be able to work outside the home, including 88% who completely agree. (For a cross-national analysis of views of gender equality, see “Gender Equality Universally Embraced, But Inequalities Acknowledged,” released July 1, 2010.)

Moreover, 87% reject the notion that a university education is more important for a boy than for a girl. And while a sizeable minority (37%) agrees that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce, most Brazilians disagree with the notion that men should have preferential treatment (63%).

When asked which type of marriage they think is the most satisfying way of life, more than eight-in-ten (84%) Brazilians opt for one where the husband and wife both have jobs and both take care of the house and children; just 15% say a marriage where the husband provides for the family and the wife cares for the household is preferable.

Support for gender equality does not vary considerably between men and women.  For example, 66% of female respondents and 60% of male respondents disagree that a man should have more right to a job than a woman during tough economic times.  And while women are somewhat more likely than men to say they would prefer a marriage where both husband and wife have jobs and both take care of the house and children, solid majorities in both groups (88% and 81%, respectively) share this view.

Opinions about whether men should receive preferential treatment when jobs are in short supply vary across age, income and, especially, educational groups.  Just 13% of those who attended college and a somewhat larger but still small share (34%) of those with at least some secondary education agree with this notion.  In contrast, a 52% majority of those with a primary education or less agrees that men should have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce.

Many Say Inequalities Persist

A 42% plurality in Brazil says that, all things considered, men have the better life in their country; and about two-thirds (66%) agree that men get more opportunities than women for high-paying jobs, even when women are as qualified for the position. Moreover, among those who say women should have the same rights as men, more than eight-in-ten (84%) say their country needs to continue making changes to achieve that goal.

Brazilian men and women offer similar opinions about the progress their country has made towards gender equality and whether job opportunities are more widely available to men than to women.  But female respondents are much more likely than male respondents to say men have it better in Brazil.  About half (51%) of women say that is the case, while 28% say their sex has the better life and 20% volunteer that life is the same for men and women.  By comparison, men are about evenly split; 32% say life is better for men, 32% say it is better for women, and 34% say there is no difference.

Those younger than 50 and those who have attended college are also more likely than older respondents and those with less education to say life is better for men than it is for women.  For example, nearly six-in-ten (57%) of those with at least some college offer this opinion, compared with 41% of those with at least a secondary education and 37% of those with a primary education or less.

Electing a Woman President

Seven-in-ten Brazilians say that, aside from their feelings about candidate Dilma Rousseff in particular, it would be a good thing for a woman to be elected president; just 13% say it would be a bad thing and 15% do not think the gender of the president matters.  By comparison, when the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press asked Americans the same question in October 2007, asking them to put aside their feelings about then-candidate Hillary Clinton, a majority (55%) said it did not matter, while 33% said it would be a good thing and 9% said it would be a bad thing to elect a woman to be president.

Brazilian men are as likely as women to say that electing a woman would be a good thing (70% and 71%, respectively); in the 2007 survey, American women were considerably more likely than men to have this opinion (42% vs. 24%).