UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Reality bites" : attitudes towards gender equality among Icelandic youth Hjalmsdottir, Andrea


Time has been on the side of egalitarian gender attitudes in industrialized Western countries, and Iceland ranks among the highest nations in terms of economic, educational, political and health equality. Although the dominant discourses have supported the idea that gender equality has already been achieved, or will be with the aging and active participation of future generations, serious gender inequalities persist, including a wide gender pay gap and a relatively traditional division of household labour. In stark contrast with dominant discourse, this thesis supports recent research which has found that young people hold less egalitarian views on gender issues than older generations. While old-fashioned essentialist claims of natural gender remain muted in contemporary public discourse in Iceland, a new type of essentialism has emerged that combines conservative gender attitudes with neo-liberal ideas. This study documents attitudes towards gender equality among 10th grade students in Akureyri, Iceland, through a qualitative analysis of five focus group discussions: two all-boys and two all-girls groups plus one mixed group. The participants’ attitudes toward the gendered division of labour within the public and the private sphere are explored in light of the possible influences of pop culture and contemporary neo-liberal and postfeminist discourses.

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