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WHAT ARE GIRLS MADE OF?

In the course of the poll, the respondents were asked several tens of questions concerning various aspects of social and political experience. Meanwhile, gender appeared not to be the factor determining material diversity of responses.

Thus, the questions inviting female and male responses, which differ distinctly and significantly, become far more appealing.

 

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “To what extent can you (your family) afford the following with your current income?”, %

Variant of answer

Can’t afford

Can hardly afford

Can easily afford

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Normal diet

7.9

11.3

38.0

42.3

53.6

45.8

Buying clothing, footwear

21.3

26.7

51.2

51.4

26.5

21.2

Major purchases, e.g. furniture, car, flat, etc.

75.0

80.9

20.3

15.8

3.7

2.2

Table 1 illustrates that men assess the welfare and consuming power of their families slightly higher. The reason could lie in the fact that men, though making a significant and often a major contribution in the family budget, know the composition of family expenditure not so well as women do and pay less attention to the things women might be forced to deny themselves.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question: “In your opinion, does Belarus need market reforms?”, %

Variant of answer

Male

Female

Yes

72.1

62.0

No

13.6

17.2

DA/NA

14.3

20.6

The data in Table 2 imply that women are more conservative in socio-economic questions. However, it should be emphasized that we see just a slightly more conservative approach. The differences are not mirror, an overwhelming majority of women support market reforms.

Women tend to take the existing reality as it is. This trust in ‘as-is’ is revealed even in the attitude to the national currency, whose destiny in May 2011 was just grievous (Table 3).

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “What currency do you trust most of all?”, %

Variant of answer

Male

Female

US Dollar

51.4

40.4

Belarusian rouble

17.1

27.8

Euro

20.7

21.7

Russian rouble

4.1

3.7

DA/NA

6.7

6.5

Women also proved less prone to exercise public and political activity in the form of conflict or confrontation (Table 4).

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “If mass riots, protest actions or strikes take place in the locality you live in, will you personally take part or will you not?”, %

Variant of answer

Male

Female

I’ll take part

11.0

6.0

I won’t take part

70.5

81.4

DA/NA

18.6

12.6

Besides, women’s answers reveal somewhat higher conservatism as to the questions concerning acute political issues (Table 5).

Table 5. Gender and Political Issues, %

Variant of answer

Male

Female

In March 2011, serious problems with foreign currency rose in Belarus. In your opinion, what are the causes?
It is a result of poor economic policy of the Belarusian authorities

58.1

44.4

It is a consequence of the world economic crisis

23.4

29.3

It is a result of the activity of the forces intending to shatter the stable situation in the country

9.7

15.6

During the last months, tens of people were convicted on the charge of participation in mass riots on the 19th of December 2010 for a term of up to 4 years in a maximum-security colony. What is your opinion of the verdicts?
The convicts are not guilty

34.9

22.2

The convicts are guilty, but the verdicts are too severe

26.5

23.1

The verdicts are consistent with the guilt of the convicts

19.2

30.7

The verdicts are even too mild

5.0

9.6

11 April 2011, an act of terrorism was committed in Minsk, as a result of which 13 persons were killed and about 200 were injured. In 24 hours after the explosion, it was announced that the chief suspect was arrested, a mentally abnormal single terrorist. Do you believe the fact that the arrested person is the one who committed that crime?
Yes, I do

22.4

34.6

No, I don’t

61.7

48.8

Who, in your opinion, might be criminated the explosion in the Minsk Underground?
Single terrorist

19.7

29.8

Belarusian authorities

25.5

19.7

Belarusian opposition

7.9

8.3

The West

5.1

4.9

Russia

1.5

1.7

Other forces

9.2

6.3

Do you fear there could be more acts of terrorism in Belarus in future?
Yes, I do

63.6

74.4

No, I don’t

36.3

24.8

In political issues, women manifest some more loyalty to the official position, from the assessment of the causes of the currency crisis (where they are less inclined to blame the authorities) to the assessment of the verdicts on the case of 19 December 2010 (where they appear to be more bloodthirsty than men and consider the verdicts too mild).

However, though women more often concur with the official version of the terrorist incident in the Minsk Underground on 11 April, they at the same time are more fearful of the possible repetition of terror attacks.

To conclude, it should be noted that women tend to be more conservative and moderate, they would rather take the social reality they live in as it is, and would rarely resort to conflict actions to achieve their goals.

Some critics of such conclusions say that this correlation is false and that conservatism is characteristic not of women in fact, but of the aged people. Since the aged people in Belarus are predominantly women, it results that they are more conservative. This demographic imbalance does exist: in the age representative May poll of IISEPS the share of persons over 59 made 17.4% for men and 27.2% for women.

However, the analysis of the subgroup of respondents under 50 showed that all the above-mentioned correlations are preserved. Having excluded the age determinant, we still can see that women prove to be more conservative than men are. Table 6 illustrates this tendency.

Table 6. Distribution of answers to the question: “In your opinion, does Belarus need market reforms?”, %

Variant of answer

Male under 50

Female under 50

Yes

74.5

67.6

No

12.4

15.9

Nevertheless, it is purely a statistical correlation; it does not mean that there are no women of the opposite opinion. There are such women and quite many of them, but the share of people of such opinion among women is lower than among men. Secondly, the value of this difference. It is not high, the difference would rarely be more than 10 percentage points, and in the majority of the questions the answer balance is retained, i.e. if the proponents of market reforms among men overnumber the opponents, the balance remains the same among women-proponents and women-opponents of these reforms.