“Lad culture” is alive and well, according to a new study

The ‘Gender Matters in Ireland 2019’ Report finds that a significant number of young people have traditional views on gender

Written by Kayle Crosson


Traditional views of gender roles are still held by a significant number of young people in Ireland. That’s according to new Safe Ireland research published this week.

The Gender Matters in Ireland 2019 Report found that over a quarter of young people between 16 and 25 think that a man should act as the head of the household. One in four young people believing that men should earn the most money to support a family.

Over one in five young people under 25 said that men should always drive the car when both a man and woman can drive and are travelling together, compared to 1 in 7 of the general population.

Caitriona Gleeson of Safe Ireland said the research is “a bit of a wake-up call to any cosy notion that Ireland’s new generation has moved beyond macho or jock culture.” 

The report shows that “we need to re-think the way we are talking to our young people about respect and equality,” Ms. Gleeson added. 

The study also found that “lad culture” is alive and well, and that young women find it a big issue. They told researchers that they experience it themselves and see it in both traditional media and social media.

“Lad culture” is still part of Irish youth culture, and young women said they often “just put it up with it.” They might not necessarily agree with it, they added, but they expect that they may not be fully respected. 

Young women said they rarely see young men calling out bad behaviour towards women, and encouraged men to speak up if they saw a male friend treating a woman poorly.

If a girl intervened, they added, she would likely be told to just “calm down”.

“You would never hear a lad challenging another lad on the way he treats a girl I don’t think, or I have never seen it myself,” one respondent said.

“I think to hear a lad say it would be very different to a girl saying it. If a girl was to turn around and say why did you do that, they would say calm down. Whereas, if a guy said it they might think maybe that it was wrong,” they added.

Men who took part in the study generally found “lad culture” to be less of an issue.

They found differences in behaviour to be more about personality than gender.

Young men in the study also raised the point that they don’t learn about gender issues in school. How they treat women may be only influenced by their home life, and how they see their family members treat each other.

Overall, participants felt that things have gotten better for women in the workplace. It was generally accepted by participants that women will go back to work after having a child and the young women that took part in the study aspired to having successful careers and to being financially independent.

But, the report says, “there was a sense that there is further progress to be made.”

While for women, the issue of the gender pay gap is significant, a number of men considered it to be less of an issue.

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