American Sociological Association

Women’s Assessments of Gender Equality

Women’s assessments of gender equality do not consistently match global indices of gender inequality. In surveys covering 150 countries, women in societies rated gender-unequal according to global metrics such as education, health, labor-force participation, and political representation did not consistently assess their lives as less in their control or less satisfying than men did. Women in these societies were as likely as women in index-equal societies to say they had equal rights with men. Their attitudes toward gender issues did not reflect the same latent construct as in index-equal societies, although attitudes may have begun to converge in recent years. These findings reflect a longstanding tension between universal criteria of gender equality and an emphasis on subjective understandings of women’s priorities.


Charles Kurzman, Willa Dong, Brandon Gorman, Karam Hwang, Renee Ryberg, and Batool Zaidi