A womAn’s place in Canada is in the kitchen?

Plan International Canada research shows progress toward gender equality is slow

March 2, 2020, Toronto – There is a commonly-held belief that Canada is a place where significant advancements toward gender equality have been made, but recent research from Plan International Canada shows 70 per cent of women have experienced some form of inequality in their lifetime, either due to discrimination or gender stereotypes.

Despite the fact that women in Canada today are more accepted in careers that were traditionally held by men, 81 per cent of those surveyed still say there is an expectation that women shoulder the responsibility of cooking, cleaning and caring for children. There also continues to be pressure on women to fulfill traditional female roles, with 73 per cent of women surveyed saying they believe women are expected to be a wife or mother.


“These Canadian results amplify the fact that gender-related norms, values and stereotypes still pose potent barriers to women achieving equal power. Globally, women spend significantly more time than men – often up to ten times as much – on unpaid care, volunteer, and domestic work,” says Saadya Hamdani, Director, Gender Equality at Plan International Canada. “This uneven distribution of work has implications for job segregation and pay equity and it socializes the younger generation to believe gender roles are “normal. This is at the heart of gender inequality; holding back women, families, communities, countries, and the world.”

The 1,452 women, ages 18-65, who participated in this study believe that the following gender stereotypes continue to exist in Canada:
  • Men expressing strong opinions at work are viewed as leaders and confident (87%)
  • Women expressing strong opinions at work are viewed as aggressive or overbearing (82%)
  • Men and boys are expected to be confident and tough (83%)
  • Women and girls are expected to be accommodating and emotional (81%)
  • At home, women are expected to take of their children, cook and clean (81%)
  • Men are expected to take care of traditional male chores, e.g., work on the car and do home repairs (82%)
  • Women are expected to be thin and graceful (78%)
  • Men are expected to be tall and muscular (67%)
  • Women are expected to become a mother and wife (73%)
  • Men are breadwinners and are expected to provide for the family more than women (63%)

For younger generations, the effects of gender bias, norms and stereotypes are exacerbated. Among young women aged 18-34 surveyed, 77 per cent say they have personally faced gender inequality vs 67 per cent of women 35-65 and 71 per cent of 18-34-year-olds have felt held back due to their physical appearance, in contrast to 53 per cent of women aged 35-65 feeling that way.

“It’s time to use these statistics to focus on actions and accountability,” says Rima Thaker, Youth Ambassador, Plan International Canada. “We share vulnerabilities, which means we can share solutions together as well. Unlike previous generations, my generation has seen progress towards a more inclusive world. This progress gives me that spark of hope and optimistic energy that we really do have the capability to achieve gender equality.”

In addition to sharing its latest research, Plan International Canada is proud to be working with high profile Canadian personalities. Together, these influential women are sharing their personal stories for Plan’s “On Our Terms” campaign to help shine a light on the harmful gender stereotypes that inhibit girls and young women from realizing their full potential. Their stories will run via Instagram from March 2 to International Women’s Day on March 8.

Canadians are invited to join them and pave a brighter future for the next generation of women by donating in tribute to a powerful woman in their life. They can donate by March 8 to make a tribute that helps women thrive and empowers the next generation of women and girls. Visit give.plancanada.ca/tribute to learn more and donate today.

About this survey

These are the findings of a study/survey conducted by Plan International Canada from February 12 to February 13, 2020 with a representative sample of 1,452 online Canadian women ages 18-65 who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The survey was conducted in English and French.

Join Plan International Canada’s International Women’s Day conversations online:

Hashtag: #DefyNormal
Twitter: @plancanada | @biaagcanada
Instagram: @plancanada | @biaagcan
Facebook: PlanCanada | Because I am a Girl Canada

About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children's rights and equality for girls. We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 70 countries. We are calling on all Canadians to Defy Normal: to believe in the power and potential of every child and to take a stand anywhere children are oppressed, exploited or left behind and anywhere girls aren't equally valued. Together, we can create a world where all unleash their full potential. Visit plancanada.ca for more information and follow @plancanada on social media to #DefyNormal and join the conversation.

About Angus Reid Forum surveys:

The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 2.6% percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About Angus Reid Forum:

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

Media contacts

Laura Arlabosse-Stewart, Plan International Canada, +1 416-822-1039, larlabossestewart@plancanada.ca

Alex Shinnan, Paradigm, +1 416-413-5196, ashinnan@paradigmpr.ca