A new global study on gender inequality has found that men now face more discrimination than women around the world.
The study, which was carried out by the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Essex in the U.K., has been published in the journal Plos One.
It looked at 6.8 billion people around the world and the scientists behind it created new ways to measure gender equality. The study is based on three factors: educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction. It also takes into account things like harsher punishments for the same crime, compulsory military service and the risk of occupational deaths.
The study found that, out of a total of 134 countries around the world, men had things worse than women in 91 countries, while women were at a disadvantage to men in just 43.
Among the countries where men have it tougher than women, according to this study, are the United States, the U.K. and Australia. Things are worse for women in countries like Israel, China and Italy.
In reaching their conclusions, scientists created a database which they used to decipher a nation’s discrimination called the Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI). On this index, a perfect score is zero and the closer a country got to that score, the more equal their society is. A positive score indicates a country where men have things better, while a negative score is better for women.
Italy was actually the closest country to achieving the perfect score, with a ranking of 0.00021 on the BIGI, slightly in favor of men. Controversially, the country that ranked closest to zero in favor of women was Saudi Arabia, with a score of -0.001554. Given that women have only recently been allowed to drive vehicles in the kingdom, that finding is likely to irk many people.
Perhaps less surprisingly, the study also found that inequality was much more prominent in less developed countries than it was in developed ones.
Professor Gijsbert Stoet, who is one of the academics behind the new study, claims that the BIGI is a more accurate measure of inequality than the Global Gender Gap Index which is currently used. Stoet claims that this measure makes it difficult to distinguish whether gender differences are the result of social inequalities or personal preference.
“The BIGI provides a much simpler way of tackling gender inequality and it focuses on aspects of life that are directly relevant to all people,” he explained to the Daily Mail. “No existing measure of gender inequality fully captures the hardships that are disproportionately experienced by men in many countries and so they do not fully capture the extent to which any specific country is promoting the well-being of all its citizens.”
“Used alongside other existing indicators, it provides additional and different information to give a more complete assessment of gender equality, making it easier for policy-makers to introduce changes to improve the quality of life for both men and women.”
Professor David Geary, from the University of Missouri in the United States, added, “We sought to correct the bias towards women’s issues within existing measures and at the same time develop a simple measure that is useful in any country in the world, regardless of their level of economic development.”