The paper presents results from a research of the gender role attitudes in Macedonian sociocultural context. The research relies on data collected as part of the last wave of the European Values Study (EVS) that was carried out by a national team of researchers from the Survey Research Centre, at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, between December 2018 and March 2019. For this survey, 1,117 citizens of Macedonia were interviewed in their homes. Gender role attitudes of the participants are determined on the basis of the degree to which they agree or disagree with a number of statements concerning the activities and the responsibilities that men and women should have in the family, the effects of women’s employment, and what kind of activities are considered as more suited to men rather than to women. The frequency and intensity of the attitudes and their correlation to certain socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents were assessed. The results reveal that there are significant variations in the attitudes of Macedonians, yet, they generally point to a gradual replacement of traditional gender ideology to more modern ones.
Gender role attitudes include understanding and assessing the appropriateness of the behaviours of men and women in the private and public spheres of people’s lives. A systematic study of gender role attitudes is done from various scientific perspectives (Inglehart & Norris, 2003; Lomazzi et al. 2018; Eagly, 1987; Fortin, 2005; Jelen, 1988) and it is aimed at acquiring different types of knowledge of both theoretical and practical significance. Such reviews typically include (a) the identification and scientific verification of the dominant understandings of the characteristic and expected behaviours of women and men living in a particular sociocultural context, which can fit into the inequality-equality dimension; (b) establishing the ways these attitudes, coloured by prejudices and negative stereotypes especially in regard to the women, contribute to the division and unequal treatment of women and men; (c) the identification of the differences in the attitudes between different groups of people within the same society and the differences in the attitudes between societies; (d) monitoring changes in the attitudes that happen over time; up to (e) passing adequate legislation for equal treatment and validation of people regardless of their gender and coming up with various programmes and activities at individual, group, institutional and social level in order for the solutions to become norms of normal behaviour of people in their everyday lives.
Hence, a study on gender role attitudes is not only important from a theoretical point of view, but even more for creating conditions for equal rights of both women and men in all areas of life. This implies providing adequate and scientifically based responses to many questions dealing with gender inequality, especially in regard to the women’s position in society. Here are some of those questions: Why are women more exposed to social life risks? Why is it more common for women to lose their jobs and more difficult to get one? Why are they blackmailed and paid less at their jobs? Why are they burdened by both privacy and pressure from the public? Why do they have less rights or opportunities to choose from? Why is it harder for them to gain access to political power? For that reason, the study of gender role attitudes is included in many international and national surveys that have been conducted annually and periodically ever since the 1970s.
These surveys usually use single items or short scales for gender role attitudes, where the content of some items remains unchanged across all survey waves. But in some surveys, the items are altered both in regard to the number and in regard to the content. However, the rarely used sets of items cover all the aspects of the gender roles and they do not always satisfy the strict psychometric criteria in order to be treated as homogeneous and consistent attitude scales (McHugh & Frieze, 1997).
In general, these surveys’ results show that in course of time in many societies there is gradual decline in the traditional gender role attitudes that are based on the male breadwinner model, and consequently increase in the egalitarian attitudes towards the roles that women and men should have in the private and public spheres (Knight & Brinton, 2017; Cotter et al., 2011; Brooks & Bolzendahl, 2004; Mason & Lu, 1988; Crompton, 1999). The results have also shown that these changes in attitudes are not equally pronounced among all the groups in a society, and that the attitude differences are greater between societies than between groups within a society (Inglehart & Norris, 2003).
Adding to the existing research paradigms, in this case we present the results from the research of the gender role attitudes of the Macedonian citizens collected with the last wave of the European Values Study (EVS), that was carried out by a team of researchers from the Survey Research Centre, at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, between December 2018 and March 2019. On this occasion the research team would like to express its gratitude to Dr. Loek Halman who as a prominent member and past Chair of the EVS supported the Macedonian team to join the EVS family and to contribute adequately to the Project.
Present study has three goals. The first goal is to determine what the attitudes of the Macedonian citizens are in regard to the role of women and men in the private and public spheres. Secondly, we want to determine whether the attitudes towards the roles of women and men show clear division of the activities that are expected and considered typical for them in the private and public spheres. Third and final, we examine whether gender role attitudes are connected to certain demographic characteristics of the citizens. Answering those questions would contribute to better understand the direction towards which the ongoing transitional social changes are leading the Macedonian society. The analysis will help to see how far the society has moved away from the traditional gender attitudes, if so.
The Survey covered 1,117 citizens from Macedonia from eight statistical regions (Skopje, North-eastern, Eastern, South-Eastern, Vardar, Pelagonija, South-Western and Polog regions). The respondents’ age ranges between 18 and 88 years (М = 43.8) and 50.2 % are female and 49.4% are male. Most of them live in the urban areas (62.7 %), and less in the rural areas (37.3%). Most of them have secondary school education (48%). According to their ethnic background 70.1% are Macedonians, 23.5% are Albanians and the remaining 6.4% belong to the other ethnic groups. According to their religious background 69.1% are Christians, and 29.8% are Muslims. And according to their marital status 61.0% stated to be married and 27.5% to be single.1
The dependent variable, gender role attitudes, is measured using eight items in the last EVS questionnaire (for measurement reflections, see Walter, 2017). The first statement refers to the role assigned to women in the private and public spheres, i.e. “A job is alright, but what most women really want is a home and children.” The following two statements refer to the conflict between the role of woman in the public and private spheres, namely “When a mother works for pay, the children suffer,” and “All in all, family life suffers when the woman has a full-time job.” The fourth statement refers to the difference (inequality) between the roles of men and women in the public and private spheres, and is formulated as “A man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to look after the home and family.” The four subsequent statements inequality of women and men in the public sphere, namely “A university education is more important for a boy than for a girl”, “On the whole, men make better political leaders than women do”, “On the whole, men make better business executives than women do,” and lastly “When jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women.” The answers to the first seven statements were given on a scale of 1 to 4, 1 being ‘disagree strongly’, 2 ‘disagree’, 3 ‘agree’, and 4 ‘agree strongly’. The answers to the eighth statement were on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being ‘‘disagree strongly’, 2 ‘disagree’, 3 ‘neither agree nor disagree’, 4 ‘agree’, and 5 ‘agree strongly’. The higher value means more inegalitarianism. The collected data was subjected to descriptive and correlational analyses in line with the research goals.
The main descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations are presented in Table 31.1. According to the number of respondents who agree with the statements (by merging the alternatives ‘agree strongly’ and ‘agree’) and those who do not agree with them (by merging the alternatives ‘disagree strongly’ and ‘disagree’) one could conclude that they rather disagreed than agreed with all the statements, except on the first statement.
In order to check whether there are significant variations in the degree of expressed agreement and disagreement with the statements depending on certain demographic features of the participants – sex, ethnic affiliation, religious denomination, marital status and place of residence – a t-test was applied to establish the significance of the differences between the arithmetic mean of the scores for each of the eight statements. In general, the t-test results show that there are significant differences in the responses to all eight statements.
Sex. There is difference between the men and the women in regard to the degree of expressed agreement or disagreement with six out of eight statements i.e. in regard to the statements 1 (Mm = 2.68, Mf = 2.57; t(1081) = 2.06, p < .05), 4 (Mm = 2.50, Mf = 2.16; t(1088) = 5.99, p < .01), 5 (Mm = 1.98, Mf = 1.69; t(1058) = 6.03, p < .01), 6 (Mm = 0.42, Mf = 0.54; t(1052) = 8.44, p < .01), 7 (Mm = 2.47, Mf = 2.00; t(1062) = 8.43, p < .01) and 8 (Mm = 2.76, Mf = 2.39; t(1098) = 4.76, p < .01). The only statement on which both men and women agree (even though there are more men agreeing with it than women) is the statement number 1. Men agree with statement 4, while women disagree with it. The same goes for statement number 6. In regard to the statements 5, 7 and 8 both men and women disagree with them, but the disagreement is more pronounced with the women.
Table 31.1 Frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of the gender roles items
1. A job is alright but what most women really want is a home and children
2. When a mother works for pay, the children suffer
3. All in all, family life suffers when the woman has a full-time job
4. A man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to look after the home and family
5. A university education is more important for a boy than for a girl
6. On the whole, men make better political leaders than women do
7. On the whole, men make better business executives than women do
8. When jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women*
*The responses to the statement number 8 are on a scale of 1 to 5. 20% of the participants responded that they neither agree nor disagree with the statement.
Ethnic affiliation. In regard to their ethnic affiliation there are significant differences in the responses to all statements i.e. in the degree of stated agreement or disagreement between the respondents who are ethnic Macedonians and those who are ethnic Albanians [1 (Mm = 2.54, Ma = 2.81; t(990) = -4.19, p < .01), 2 (Mm = 2.14, Ma = 2.67; t(357) = -7.75, p < .01), 3 (Mm = 2.15, Ma = 2.83; t(375) = -10.07, p < .01), 4 (Mm = 2.15, Ma = 2.76; t(376) = -8.49, p < .01), 5 (Mm = 1.71, Ma = 2.12; t(328) = 6.02, p < .01), 6 (Mm = 2.19, Ma = 2.64; t(361) = -6.25, p < .01), 7 (Mm = 2.08, Ma = 2.61; t(365) = -7.30, p < .01), 8 (Mm = 2.30, Ma= 3.25; t(395) = -10.04, p < .01)]. The Macedonians unlike the Albanians do not agree with all the statements, except with the statement number 1 that both the Macedonians and the Albanians agree with, but the agreement of the Macedonians is less pronounced. The respondents who are Albanians on the other hand agree with all the statements, except for number 5. The Macedonians also do not agree with that statement, but their disagreement is more pronounced.
Religious denomination. The comparison of the average scores of the responses to the statements by the respondents who are Christians and those who are Muslims shows that almost identical results are identified in regard to the agreement and the disagreement with statements, just like in the case of the ethnic affiliation, and in regard to all the statements (with the exception of the statements 1 and 5) the former group disagrees with the statements and the latter agrees. (98% of the respondents who are Christians are ethnic Macedonians, and 99% of Muslims are ethnic Albanians.). Similar tendencies in the existence of more traditional than egalitarian gender roles attitudes (especially in the private sphere) among Muslims, compared to the attitudes of members of other religious groups, have been identified in other social and cultural contexts (e.g. Page & Yip, 2016; Hussain, 2008; Abouchedid & Nasser, 2007). Having in mind that religion is often indicated as a factor that could be connected to gender role attitudes, there was additional examination using the Chi-square test of the link between the responses to the statement and the self-identification of the participants in regard to the religiousness by having them declare themselves as religious, non-religious or atheists. The test results show that such a connection exists with consistent accuracy in all the cases. Namely, the highest degree of disagreement with the statements was expressed by the persons who declared themselves as atheists, followed by the non-religious, and the least disagreement was declared by the religious persons.
Marital status. There are also differences between the respondents who are married and those who are not [1 (Mm = 2.73, Mnm = 2.36; t(502) = 6.03, p < .01), 2 (Mm = 2.39, Mnm = 2.01; t(599) = 6.82, p < .01), 3 (Mm = 2.44, Mnm = 2.02; t(563) = 6.91, p < .01), 4 (Mm = 2.45, Mnm = 1.96; t(598) = 7.78, p < .01), 5 (Mm = 1.92, Mnm = 1.61; t(964) = 5.52, p < .01), 6 (Mm = 2.39, Mnm = 2.11; t(943) = 4.49, p < .01), 7 (Mm = 2.31, Mnm = 2.02; t(585) = 4.66, p < .01), 8 (Mm = 2.76, Mnm= 2.15; t(676) = 7.32, p < .01)]. Both groups of respondents do not agree with all the statements, except for statement number 1 that the married respondents agree with and those who are single disagree. Regarding all other statements the respondents who are single disagree much more with the statements than those who are single.
Place of residence. Significant differences have been found also when comparing the average scores of the responses of the respondents who live in the rural areas and those who live in the urban areas [1 (Mr = 2.70, Mu = 2.58; t(1065) = 2.19, p < .05), 2 (Mr = 2.38, Mu = 2.22; t(759) = 2.87, p < .01), 3 (Mr = 2.44, Mu = 2.26; t(808) = 3.22, p < .01), 4 (Mr= 2.55, Mu = 2.19; t(749) = 5.99, p < .01), 5 (Mr = 2.00, Mu = 1.73; t(1084) = 5.33, p < .01), 6 (Mr = 2.50, Mu = 2.20; t(812) = 5.04, p < .01), 7 (Mr = 2.45, Mu = 2.10; t(780) = 5.88, p < .01), 8 (Mr= 2.88, Mu = 2.39; t(768) = 5.94, p < .01)]. The t-test results also show that both groups agree with the first statement, but that agreement is greater among the respondents who live in the rural areas. In regard to the other statements the respondents who live in the rural areas, unlike those who live in the urban areas, agree also with the fourth and the sixth statement. In the cases when both groups disagreed with a statement (statements number 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8), the respondents living in urban areas expressed significantly higher disagreement.
Education. Looking into the relation of the responses to the statements with the level of education of the respondents, by calculating the Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient we see that the more educated respondents are significantly more inclined to disagree with the statements than those with lower education [the correlation is between rs = -.22 (statement 2) and rs = -.40 (statement 4)]. Consequently, it means that the higher educated respondents showed more egalitarian attitudes.
Based on the responses to the statements on gender role attitudes in the Macedonian context, one could conclude that generally the attitudes of the Macedonian citizens on the adequacy of conduct of men and women are inclined to be more egalitarian than traditional. Namely, the results have shown that there is a gradual abandoning of the traditional gender ideology, even though among certain groups of citizens there are significant variations that deserve additional explorations.
The variations in the attitudes follow the general tendencies established in other surveys, in the sense that women, better educated individuals, persons who are not married and persons who are less religious have more egalitarian attitudes. Additionally, this research shows that ethnic Macedonians in comparison to ethnic Albanians, as well as the respondents who are Christians in comparison to the respondents who are Muslims, have more egalitarian attitudes.
Furthermore, it is important to state that beyond the objectives of present chapter, an additional comparative analysis was conducted across the countries that participated in this EVS wave, showing in general that there is significant difference across countries. A particularly interesting finding from this analysis is a high disagreement with the statement number 5 “A university education is more important for a boy than for a girl.” This means that at a more global level it is not acceptable to differentiate between men and women when it comes to their education, and the same goes also for the opportunities for personal development that could have multiple effects on their mutual acceptance and respect, and the improvement of the quality of their lives.
In reference to the EVS, one should also point out several critical remarks from a methodological aspect (in this case we shall mention only one) in regard to the nature of the items that are used to identify the gender role attitudes. Namely, in this survey, just like with other omnibus surveys, these are the items that are commonly used to measure the general gender role attitudes, and it is well known that based on them one cannot predict with certainty the people’s behaviour in real situations that are gender saturated, and that could encourage or inhibit equal treatment of women and men. When it comes to the success of behaviour prediction, as suggested by the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991), it might be more effective to examine the particular gender role attitudes of people that significantly determine the intention to manifest very specific behaviour in a given situation.
Abouchedid. K., & Nasser, R.N. (2007). Effects of gender and religiosity among Christians and Muslims on “gendered” role attitudes towards ability and equality: The case of Lebanon. Electronic Journal of Sociology. ISSN: 1198 3655
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behaviour. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179-211.
Brooks, C., & Bolzendahl, C. (2004). The transformation of US gender role attitudes: Cohort replacement, social-structural change, and ideological learning. Social Science Research, 33, 106–133.
Cotter, D., Hermsen, J. M., & Vanneman, R. (2011). The end of the gender revolution? Gender role attitudes from 1977 to 2008. American Journal of Sociology, 117(1), 259-289.
Crompton, R. (1999). Restructuring gender relations and employment: the decline of the male breadwinner. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Fortin (2005). Gender role attitudes and the labour market outcomes of women across OECD countries. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 21(3), 416-438
Hussain, S. (2008). Counting Women with Faith: What Quantitative Data can reveal about Muslim Women in ‘Secular’ Britain. In K. Aune, S. Sharma, & C. Vincett (Eds.), Women and religion in the west: challenging secularization (pp. 165-182). Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
Inglehart, R., & Norris, P. (2003). Rising tide: Gender equality and cultural change around the world. Cambridge University Press.
Jelen, T.G. (1988). The effects of gender role stereotypes on political attitudes. The Social Science Journal, 25(3), 353-365.
Knight, C. R. & Brinton, M. C. (2017). One egalitarianism or several? Two decades of gender-role attitude change in Europe. American Journal of Sociology, 122(5), 1485–1532.
Lomazzi, V., Israel, S., & Crespi, I. (2018). Gender equality in Europe and the effect of work-family balance policies on gender-role attitudes. Social Sciences, 8(1), 5.
Mason, K.O., & Lu, Y.-H (1988). Attitudes toward women’s familial roles: Changes in the United States, 1977–1985. Gender and Society, 2(1), 39–57.
McHugh, M. C., & Frieze, I. N. (1997). The measurement of gender-role attitudes. A review and commentary. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21(1), 1-16
Page, S., & Yip, AKT. (2016). Gender equality and religion: A multi-faith exploration of young adults’ narratives. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 1–17.
Walter, J.G. (2018). The adequacy of measures of gender roles attitudes: A review of current measures in omnibus surveys. Quality and Quantity, 52, 829–848.