Women and men perpetuate their own gender labels, finds MYOB

06 Mar 2019

Women and men are perpetuating their own gender stereotypes, with women labelling themselves as nurturing and approachable and men identifying as powerful and strong, according to new word association research by MYOB.

The research, which surveyed 1000 working Australians in the lead up to International Women’s Day this 8 March, suggests that while much is being done to try to shift these stereotyped gender roles, fundamentally males and females align themselves with these descriptions.

It found that women were almost twice as likely to see themselves as resilient (30%) compared to how men viewed themselves (17%), while women see themselves as more determined (25%) compared to how men view other men (16%). Overwhelmingly, both women (66%) and men (47%) view women as nurturing.

MYOB General Manager Marketing and Direct Sales, Natalie Feehan says bias, conscious or otherwise, impacts the way managers hire, act and contribute in the workplace.

“The way we see and identify ourselves is a huge part of the gender equality challenge,” said Ms Feehan.

“While these word associations are highly stereotyped, men and women need to understand that all these attributions create diversity – and diversity is what creates the advantage and benefit to business and society. 

“It’s not about one being ‘better’, it’s that people are different, and difference is okay. What you need is diverse leaders, management teams and boards so that you have a diverse team of thinking and leadership.”

Word association: which word do you associate with which gender?

  How men see men How men see women How women see men How women see women
Visible 17% 11% 18% 14%
Nuturing 6% 47% 2% 66%
Strong 28% 7% 22% 10%
Resilient 17% 15% 6% 30%
Determined 16% 11% 6% 25%
Powerful 28% 6% 27% 9%
Confident 18% 6% 15% 13%
Weak 5% 15% 4% 12%
Afraid 6% 16% 3% 22%
Brave 20% 7% 12% 17%
Negative 9% 14% 12% 12%
Positive 13% 10% 5% 22%
Domineering 26% 14% 42% 8%
Intimidating 23% 12% 31% 10%
Approachable 14% 19% 7% 34%

A concerning finding showed that more than half of respondents (51%) said visible women in senior or executive roles was the most effective way to build diversity in the workplace, while only 13% of respondents associated the word ‘visible’ with women, highlighting a hurdle for organisations seeking to address gender imbalance.

“At MYOB, we commit to making sure at least 40% of our software engineering team is female. With only one in four IT graduates female*, one way we seek to readdress that balance with MYOB’s trainee program, DevelopHer. We recruit women as fully-paid interns and spend six months teaching them to code. At this point we believe they’ve gained the same knowledge as a three-year undergraduate and they join the MYOB graduate team full-time,” said Ms Feehan.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Ms Feehan hosts a Leadership of Fools podcast examining an exploration of gender, featuring Executive General Manager Digital, Marketing, People and Culture at Vicinity Centres, Simone Carroll, and former Survivor contestant and Partner for Client Management at Affirmative Investment Management, Kate Temby. The podcast will be available on 8 March and can be found here.

For more information about DevelopHer visit: https://www.myob.com/au/careers/myob-developher-program

For further comment or other information please contact:

Collette Betts  collette.betts@myob.com  0406 947 551

*CSIRO Female participation in school computing: reversing the trend report 2016

About MYOB

MYOB Group Ltd (ASX: MYO) is a leading provider of online business management solutions. MYOB makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB operates across four strategic segments – Small to Medium sized businesses (SMEs), Practices (accountants, advisers and bookkeepers), Enterprise (larger businesses) and Payments. It provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. MYOB is committed to ongoing innovation and delivering efficiencies and growth opportunities for its growing client base across Australia and New Zealand.  For more information, visit http://investors.myob.com.au/Investors or follow @MYOB on Twitter.

About the research

The research was conducted by Gundabluey on behalf of MYOB between the 19 and 26 February 2019 and gathered the responses of 1014 employed Australians.