Gender Compass

Gender Compass is a first-of-its-kind research project which segments the broader Australian public into six groups according to their beliefs, policy preferences and behaviours in relation to gender equality.
 
The unique segmentation analysis was conducted on data gathered through an online survey of 2,522 Australians aged 16 years and over conducted in mid-2023.
 
To build a more gender-equal society, it is critical to shift social norms. Gender Compass helps us achieve this by acting as a tool through which we can design targeted communications that effectively shift the dial.

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Summary of the six segments

Segmentation data was generated from an online survey of 2,522 members of the Australian public aged 16 years and older.

Trailblazer<br><small>(19% of Australians)</small>
Trailblazer
(19% of Australians)
For the Trailblazer segment the issue of gender equality is salient and vital. They are hopeful about the issue and strongly support measures to address inequality yet are also frustrated, concerned, and think equality remains a fair way off. According to the Trailblazer segment, gender equality is everyone’s business. Their strong views are informed by their lived experience of gender inequality, with nearly three quarters reporting personally experiencing these harmful impacts. People belonging to the Trailblazer segment are mainly cis-females, somewhat younger, and are much more likely to identify as LGBTQIA+ and live in regional areas. They are educated, growth-oriented people, who cherish fairness and equality over other values.
Hopeful<br><small>(24% of Australians)</small>
Hopeful
(24% of Australians)
Equality is important to the Hopeful segment, they are well aware of the issues and largely support measures to address inequality, but their views and voices are less insistent and less urgent than the Trailblazers. Most have experienced negative impacts because of their gender, mainly relating to caring for home or family. In relation to gender equality, hopefulness is the dominant feeling for this segment, though they also feel concern and a sense of uncertainty. The Hopeful segment are on balance cis-female and tend to be older than the other segments.
Conflicted<br><small>(12% of Australians)</small>
Conflicted
(12% of Australians)
Gender equality is important to the Conflicted segment, but action to address it is less so, since they are unaware of many of its impacts and believe we are very close to achieving it. Overall, they feel positive or neutral about gender equality and hold mixed views – both traditional and progressive. This segment see gender equality as an issue for men too. Equality is not a core value, and the Conflicted are the only segment aware that their gender has advantaged them, rather than had negative impacts. The Conflicted segment are mostly younger, cis-males. They tend to be more urban, educated, employed, from a diverse religious or cultural background, and have families.
Moderate<br><small>(23% of Australians)</small>
Moderate
(23% of Australians)
The enthusiasm of the Moderate segment towards the issue of gender equality is restrained. This mildly positive neutrality is evident in their hopeful, content feelings and lukewarm response to change initiatives. For this segment, the importance of the issue is impacted by their lack of awareness of the impacts and their focus on other priorities. Overall, this segment have personally experienced negative impacts of inequality, especially in caring for home and family. Fairness, equality and tolerance however are not values they hold dear – though they do value benevolence. The Moderate segment reflects population demographics, though is slightly more cis-male.
Indifferent<br><small>(6% of Australians)</small>
Indifferent
(6% of Australians)
Gender equality is just not on this segment’s radar. Predominant feelings are neutrality or uncertainty, their awareness of the impacts is low, and when it comes to support for specific initiatives most refrain from expressing a view either for or against. Gender inequalities have had a negative impact on far fewer than in any other segment. This segment is the least likely to value equality and fairness and the most likely to value fun and loyalty. The Indifferent segment are the smallest. They are similar to population demographics, except for their lower levels of education.
Rejector<br><small>(17% of Australians)</small>
Rejector
(17% of Australians)
The Rejector segment believe gender equality is a non-issue and change for equality for women has gone too far. It is men’s experience of gender discrimination they are concerned with (yet may not express openly). They feel neutral or content about gender equality, are broadly unaware of its impacts and are the least supportive of any change. Some report experiencing negative mental health impacts as a result of their gender. The Rejector segment tend to be cis-males, have been educated at TAFE/college, be slightly older, and based outside cities. This is the segment most likely to value respecting tradition, rules and norms, freedom and economic security.

The state of gender equality in Australia

In Australia, women are still paid less for the same work, with a woman earning 77.2c for every $1 a man earns (Workplace Gender Equality Agency). And devastatingly, 1-in-3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a man they know (Our Watch).

Discrimination, inequality and violence are all symptoms of harmful attitudes and societal norms. To overcome them, we must understand underlying attitudes and behaviours across Australian society.

The research gap on gender equality

Until now, there has been little research identifying how best to engage with the Australian public’s existing attitudes on gender equality. Gender Compass fills the fundamental knowledge gap around who we should be speaking to, what we should be speaking to them about and what they consider the biggest challenges blocking a gender-equal future.

As Plan International Australia, we brought together charities, academics and other stakeholders, to drive this research and transform how we engage Australians in conversations about gender equality.

A tool to inform gender advocacy

We’ll use Gender Compass to target specific audiences and develop recommendations on how to communicate with each group to shift their attitudes and mobilise them to take action.

This tool will be essential in helping to shift harmful attitudes against women. It has been shared publicly and freely for all to use.

This research is based on the groundbreaking ‘Climate Compass’ project Australia.

Gender Compass logo

Acknowledgments

We especially want to thank our research partners, Heartward Strategic, and our research advisor, Dr Rebecca Huntley, for delivering such a robust analysis of how Australians perceive and engage with gender equality.

Heartwood Strategic logo Dr Rebecca Huntley

Steering committee and advisors

  • ActionAid Australia
  • Care Australia
  • Equality Rights Alliance
  • Fair Agenda
  • International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA)
  • Oxfam Australia
  • The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL)
  • Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA)
  • Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
  • Professor Rae Cooper AO, The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill, The University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Ramona Vijeyarasa, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

 

The project was proudly funded by

 

Logos of Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation, Minderoo Foundation and Trawalla Foundation

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