How do Millennials define gender roles– in society, in the media, in the workplace, and in relationships? What stereotypes persist, who should take responsibility for which household tasks, and what qualities do they look for in a partner?

As part of the ongoing “MTV Knowing Youth” exploration, Viacom International commissioned a study to answer these questions. It took the form of a 10-minute survey among males and females 12 to 34 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico. Respondents were recruited from the Viacom online community and fieldwork occurred in late May/early June.

Here are key findings from that study:

Three out of four Millennials believe gender roles exist. They also believe roles have changed for the better.
  • Females are more likely than males to believe gender roles exist (79% vs. 69%)
  • Over 70% feel roles have improved in positive ways – Latin
  • Americans are the most likely to believe this, Italians the least likely
While most perceive positive change, many negative stereotypes persist.
  • About 30% agreed that men are more rational, men are natural breadwinners/women are best at staying home, or men are messy
  • About 20% agreed that men are better at math, women are meant to be small and graceful, women can’t drive, and women are not good at sports
Millennials believe men and women have different tastes and lifestyles so it’s okay to portray them differently in the media – but they also believe that media reinforces gender roles.
  • Over half feel it’s okay to target them with different products and messages
  • Just under half say the media reinforces gender roles
  • About half agree that the media portrays women as objects of desire
Female Millennials believe women are more independent now than in the past – but men aren’t so sure.
  • Three-quarters of females agree that women are more independent today – and just over half of males
  • 6 in 10 agree that gender roles are more egalitarian when it comes to jobs, housework, and childcare
  • Females are considerably more likely than males to feel that women are more career-oriented and professionally driven, and that gender roles are less strictly defined nowadays
In the nature/nurture debate about gender roles, Millennials lean more heavily on the “nurture” side.
  • Half of Millennials believe gender roles are not predetermined at birth – within this group, some believe society creates and reinforces gender roles, while others feel that people can freely decide which role to adopt
  • Just 14% believe that women and men are predisposed at birth to different roles
  • A quarter are somewhere in the middle, believing that while people are pre-disposed to gender roles, society also plays a part
Millennials see gender roles evolving the most in the workplace.
  • While Millennials see women’s higher participation in the workforce as good for family finances, they also see women juggling more responsibilities
  • However, they also see advantages in men’s higher involvement in housework/childcare and flexible working hours for parents
Most female Millennials believe it’s harder for them to achieve success in a professional career.
  • Seven in ten feel they do not have the same career opportunities available to them as men, and that women have to sacrifice more than men to climb the ladder
  • Females are almost twice as likely as males to say that women have to be twice as talented and work twice as hard as men to get to the same level
Many hold traditional views on who should be working traditional female and male jobs.
  • About half believe that mechanics, firefighters, electricians, and soldiers should be men
  • About a fifth to a third believe that secretaries, homemakers, receptionists, flight attendants, hairdressers, and nurses should be women
When it comes to relationships, the qualities both males and females seek out the most are respect and honesty.
  • Women are much more likely to look for specific attributes in a partner
  • Sense of humor, good communication, and fidelity are other important attributes
Most Millennials believe women and men should share domestic tasks equally. In practice, Millennial men feel they’re doing their part – but women might beg to differ.
  • Almost 3 out of 4 agree that couples should share domestic responsibilities
  • Millennial men are almost twice as likely as women to say they share household responsibilities equally
  • Female Millennials are more than four times more likely than men to say they do the majority of the housework with some help from their partners
  • In spite of this disparity, the majority believe that the split is fair (58% women, 68% men)
They also believe childcare should be split equally. But while men believe they are contributing half of the child-related work, women feel they themselves are mainly responsible.
  • 8 in 10 agree that childcare should be shared equally by both partners
  • Men were twice as likely as women to believe they share childcare tasks equally
  • Women are four times more likely than men to say they are mainly responsible for childcare but their partner is actively involved