Young Westerners less likely to see themselves as “totally masculine” or “totally feminine”

January 30, 2023, 10:35 AM GMT+0

People in Poland, Italy, Spain and France are most likely to see themselves in such terms

Traditional notions of masculinity and femininity have eroded over the decades, and now new data from the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project shows how far men and women in the West still personally identify with those gender images.

Our 11-country study included eight European nations – Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK – as well as Canada, the USA and Australia. We asked respondents to say where they put themselves on a seven-point scale from “1 - totally masculine” to “7 - totally feminine”.

While the large majority of people in each country place themselves on the side of the scale that correlates with their own gender, there is a big difference between countries on how many men identify as “totally masculine” and how many women identify as “totally feminine”.

Men and women in Poland, Italy, Spain and France are particularly likely to put themselves at the most masculine or feminine ends of the scale, with at least two thirds of men (66-75%) and seven in ten women (71-86%) in each country doing so.

By contrast, Danes and Germans are the least likely to consider themselves either totally masculine or totally feminine. Only 35% of Danish women and 37% of Danish men describe themselves as such, while 33% of German men and 45% of German women say the same.

Here in the UK, 88% of men rate themselves a 1-3 on the scale, putting themselves in the more masculine than feminine portion. However, only 41% assign themselves a ‘1 - totally masculine’ rating, with 30% choosing a ‘2’ and 16% rating themselves a ‘3’.

Likewise, 86% of British women put themselves at 5-7 on the scale, the more feminine than masculine end. Fewer than half (46%) rate themselves as ‘7 – totally feminine’, while 36% choose ‘6’ and 15% say ‘5’.

Young people are less likely to feel totally masculine or totally feminine

There is a clear generational divide, with younger men and women less likely to rate themselves as totally masculine or feminine than their elders. This is the case even in Poland, Italy, Spain and France, where traditional gender identity is highest.

These four countries are the only ones where a majority of younger men and women (those aged 18-39) rate themselves as being totally masculine or totally feminine. In all other countries surveyed fewer than half do so, and in many cases this figure is substantially below 50%.

Among men the generational gap is widest in Sweden, where just 27% of the under 40s describe themselves as totally masculine, compared to 71% of those aged 60 and above. There are also particularly wide gaps in the UK (25% vs 63%) and the USA (26% vs 64%).

When it comes to women, this generational gap is highest in the UK, with only 25% of 18-39 year old women describing themselves as totally feminine, compared to 67% of those aged 60 and above. There is a similarly high gap in Australia (29% vs 70%).

See the full results here

Photo: Getty

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