Breaking Down Gender Biases

Shifting social norms towards gender equality

Authored by: Pedro Conceição, Yu-Chieh Hsu, Tasneem Mirza et al.

Categories: Human Rights
Sub-Categories: Human Development
Region: No Region
Year: 2023
Citation: Conceição, Pedro, Yu-Chieh Hsu, Tasneem Mirza, Rehana Mohammed, Fernanda Pavez Esbry, Carolina Rivera Vázquez and Heriberto Tapia. Breaking Down Gender Biases: Shifting social norms towards gender equality. United Nations Development Programme, 2023.

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Executive Summary

Without tackling biased gender social norms, we will not achieve gender equality, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Biased gender social norms—the undervaluation of women’s capabilities and rights in societ—constrain women’s choices and opportunities by regulating behaviour and setting the boundaries of what women are expected to do and be. Biased gender social norms are a major impediment to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls (SDG 5). Gender bias is a pervasive problem worldwide.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) quantifies biases against women, capturing people’s attitudes on women’s roles along four key dimensions: political, educational, economic and physical integrity. The index, covering 85 percent of the global population, reveals that close to 9 out of 10 men and women hold biases against women. Nearly half the world’s people believe that men make better political leaders than women do, and two of five people believe that men make better business executives than women do. Gender biases are pronounced in both lower and higher Human Development Index (HDI) countries. These biases hold across regions, income levels and cultures—making them a global issue.