Community Scoop

Old-fashioned views about gender roles hold us all back from true equality


Gill Greer

Chief Executive, National Council of Women; spokesperson for Gender Equal NZ

As some readers might already know, Gender Equal NZ (led by the National Council of Women) has recently published the results from New Zealand’s first Gender Attitudes Survey, along with our Good Guys animated film and infographic.

We carried out this demographically representative survey with Research NZ in late 2017 and the good news is most New Zealanders recognise gender equality is a fundamental right for all of us. But we are seeing some New Zealanders holding old-fashioned views about gender stereotypes and roles – these are the views that hold all New Zealanders back from achieving true gender equality.

It was particularly interesting for me to see that New Zealanders hold some strong ideas about what girls and women can do and be, and even more about what boys and men “should” be like – and what makes a “real man”. And we see these ideas reflected in the statistics, for example:

·         1 in 5 New Zealanders do not believe it’s ok for boys to play with dolls

·         31% of men think that a man who doesn’t fight back when he’s pushed around will lose respect as a man

·         19% of New Zealanders think it is more important for men to be seen in a position of power in NZ society

I think what is so damaging about these stereotypes is that they put sexual prowess, being strong and making money above empathy, being kind and vulnerability. But I would argue that these are important skills for Good Guys and people of all genders.

We’ve been working with a group of Good Guys spokespeople who are helping us to encourage New Zealanders to stand up to these old-fashioned views and help drive change.

We launched this research at Parliament in April, where we had the pleasure to hear from some of our Good Guys spokespeople – Richie Hardcore and Jeremy Epairama – about the ways in which harmful masculinity norms have impacted them, and men they know.

We also had real buy-in from our hosting Ministers – the Minister for Women Hon Julie Anne Genter and the Minister for Justice Hon Andrew Little. Both spoke exceptionally well on the issues – Julie Anne Genter commended us for ‘bridging the knowledge gap’ with this research, while Andrew Little spoke about male role models, who showed him that men can choose to change.

I’d love to see all New Zealanders question ideas about “real men” that get in the way of men being Good Guys – with good relationships with their kids, partners, friends and everyone else.  This is why we’ve created the Good Guys animated film and infographic which New Zealanders can use, and share, as a starting point to question these ideas. You can find the Good Guys material at

I would like to welcome all readers to join the discussion about harmful gender stereotypes on

The Gender Attitudes Survey has given us a huge amount of data – ‘Good Guys’ is simply the first story we are telling from this data. Our next story focuses on the four key areas of inequality – so stay tuned!

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

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