LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Men in Britain are stronger supporters of gender equality than women themselves, with 86 per cent believing women in their lives should have the same opportunities as they do, compared to 81 per cent of women who think so, a survey showed on Monday.
Although seven out of 10 men believe a more equal society would be better for the economy, only 39 per cent think they would personally benefit if men and women in Britain were equal, the survey by women's rights charity the Fawcett Society, said.
Seven per cent of men think they would lose out if society was more equal.
"We won't achieve equality without engaging and persuading men," Sam Smethers, the Fawcett Society's chief executive said in a statement.
"We have never had a better opportunity to create a more equal society. But despite this, stubborn barriers remain."
Women make up 47 per cent of Britain's workforce, but only 34 per cent of managers, directors and senior officials are women. Only seven per cent of engineers and one-fifth of IT technicians are women, according to official data.
According to the survey, 16 per cent of recruitment managers are against gender equality and 14 per cent believe they would lose out if men and women had equal opportunities.
"Whether it is conscious or unconscious bias, this is discrimination in action," Smethers said.
"This is bad for individual employers, because they are not recruiting or promoting the best people, and bad for the economy as they are holding women back, failing to use their skills and expertise."
According to the survey six in 10 people believe that men who hold top positions wouldn't make room for women unless they had to.
"This is at the heart of it. Despite the fact that men are overwhelmingly pro-equality, a majority of people clearly believe that when it comes to the crunch, men won't move over unless they have to," Smethers said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed in July to end the country's gender pay gap in a generation, calling it a "scandal" that a woman in Britain earns only 80 per cent of a man's pay.
Large firms in Britain will be required to publish the average pay of their male and female employees in an effort to pressure them to pay women more.