Taiwanese teens support gender equality

When junior and senior high school students were asked by Commonwealth monthly in October 2011 on whether they agreed that there should be equal pay for equal work without regard for gender in the workplace, 86 percent agreed that pay rates for men and women should be equal. Despite Taiwan’s advances in gender equality issues, the island’s standing internationally was excluded from the recently released 2011 Gender Inequality Index (GII) since the island is not a member of the United Nations.

However, calculations made by Taiwan’s Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics using the index’s methodology found that Taiwan would have been ranked first in Asia and fourth in the world (behind Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark) in gender equality, had it been a part of the survey.

The World Bank’s 2012 report on “Gender Equality and Development” suggests, “countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity, improve outcomes for children, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for all.”

The younger generation was also found to be very tolerant on the subject of same-sex marriage. On an issue that has polarized opinions in the United States, nearly 70 percent of 12 to 17 year-olds polled, said same-sex marriage should be made legal in Taiwan. The survey revealed that “Taiwan’s adolescent generation has an ambiguous relationship with adults, remaining tethered to the world of the older generation, but also existing in a different universe.”

Twenty percent of the adolescent respondents said they spend over two hours a day online, compared with fewer than 10 percent who spend the same amount of time reading printed books. Even television is slowly falling out of favor as “old media,” with under 16 percent of respondents watching it for more than two hours a day. The most frequently viewed online content accessed by young respondents was “social networking sites” and “online videos.”

The survey also found that the better educated a father is, the less likely a teenager is to be addicted to the Internet. Heavy use of the Internet among children of fathers with a “junior high school or lower” level of education was more than twice as high (29 percent) as among children of fathers with “graduate degrees” (13 percent).

Fathers with poorer educational backgrounds usually also face relatively difficult social and economic conditions, according to Commonwealth, while parents in lower middle class households have less time to spend with their children, leaving the Internet to serve as a modern-day “nanny.”

The concepts of “internet justice” and “digital citizenship” are relatively new, and there are questions over whether they exist in the real world. “If you see injustice, you can photograph it on your cell phone and post it online to launch a “human-hunt.” “Do you agree or disagree?” was one of the questions asked about digital values. Nearly 57 percent of respondents of the Commonwealth survey agreed with the practice while another 20 percent had no opinion, which could be interpreted as a sign of tacit support.

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