Mumbai: From the boardroom to the sports field, Indian women are making a mark in traditionally male-dominated areas and redefining their roles in society. Most urban Indian millennial netizens, including men, seem to approve of these changes, according to data collected by market researcher YouGov in collaboration with Mint. However, the survey also suggests that this support may be slightly superficial. A significant portion of men are reluctant to share responsibilities—child-rearing, in particular—at home, making it difficult for women to work outside homes.
The YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey was conducted in January 2019 as an online poll asking over 5,000 respondents, across different age groups in 180 cities, about their habits, preferences and values with specific questions about women’s role in society. The survey revealed that the majority (75%) of men and women in Urban India supported women working outside their homes.
This support cuts across ages with both those aged under and above 30 supporting women’s right to work. Similarly, there is an overwhelming acceptance of gender equality in salaries. Around 90% of Indians online agreed that men and women should be paid equally for the same work.
However, breaking down the results by gender reveals that there remains a significant minority of men who believe that it is unacceptable for women to work. One in five men surveyed disagreed with women working outside their homes. There is also little difference in this belief between generations: both men under 30 and above 30 felt equally strongly about women working.
Further, a significant portion of urban residents believe that a women’s family wealth should determine their decision to work. Around one in four respondents (25%) agreed that women from affluent families need not work.
In terms of income groups, acceptance of women workers is the highest among respondents in the middle income groups. Lower income earners (less than ₹20,000 household income per month) and higher income earners (more than ₹2 lakh) are relatively less supportive of women working.
Unsurprisingly, respondents with higher education (secondary school graduates and above) were more favourable to women working outside homes. However, a significant number of respondents (39%) with less schooling (nine years or less) believed that women should not work outside homes.
There is also little difference in these opinions across regions. In cities in different regions of India, the proportion of men who do not accept women working is broadly similar. Netizens from larger cities, though, are slightly more supportive of gender equality in the labour force. For instance, only 13% of respondents from India’s large metros (Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai) feel that women should not work outside their homes compared to 15% in other cities.
While there is broad support for gender equality, the YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey also highlights challenges to gender equality. A major constraint in female labour force participation in India is that they’re occupied with domestic responsibilities such as child-rearing.
While around 90% of Indians online believe that men and women should always share household chores, a significant portion believes that child-rearing is the woman’s responsibility. There seems to be far less willingness to share parental burden across the gender divide.
Around 40% of women and 60% of men either agreed with or did not contest that child-rearing is the women’s responsibility. This belief also cuts across the generation divide with both younger women and men feeling equally strongly about women raising children.
Even among young urban Indians online, a cohort seen as more progressive, there is a significant minority that holds conservative views about women’s role in households, workplaces and society.
This is the second of a three-part series on the values and beliefs of India’s millennial netizens.