World Bank: Gender norms are strikingly similar across cultures

The World Bank surveyed more than 4000 women, men, and children in 20 countries on social and gender norms last year. The results? We’re more similar than we are different.

In one notable section of the study, The World Bank asked girls and boys to define what makes a “good” girl.

Unsurprisingly, being helpful at home, obedient, and respectful are high on the “good” qualities from the perspective of both boys and girls. Boys found it more important than girls that “good girls” are decently dressed, and girls found it more important than “good girls” do not date, but there isn’t much disparity in responses.

Far bigger differentials, however, surface when evaluating what makes a “good boy.” Boys rank good behavior as more than twice as important as girls do in defining goodness for boys, while girls rank being helpful at home as more than twice as important as boys do.

Another big difference? More than 60 percent of girls, compared to only 40 percent of boys, aspired to earn college degrees. Across the countries and cultures, though girls and women were still subject to many traditional gender expectations, women noted that education was the silver bullet for their daughters to gain more respect and power.

Authors of the report will be on Twitter for a live chat tomorrow morning to discuss the findings and women’s empowerment globally. You can participate with the hashtag #wblive and read the full report here.

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