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Gender Equality - Background

The Scottish Government is working to reduce and remove the barriers faced by women and men in Scotland across a range of social and economic spheres.

The gender equality team is working across the Scottish Government to promote equality of opportunity between women and men. We work to support colleagues to understand the differing needs of women and men, in all their diversity, so that we are able, as a government, to deliver on our gender equality objectives.

Our web pages set out our different areas of activity, such as our work supporting a range of women's organisations across Scotland.

Our challenge

Across our society, women tend to experience disadvantage and inequality but the Scottish Government believes that, to truly progress gender equality in Scotland, we need to be thinking about the needs and experiences of both women and men. The Government is working towards equality between both sexes as part of its equality agenda.

Both women and men experience gender stereotyping and discrimination, which makes assumptions about our respective roles and needs. In different contexts, this puts either women or men at a disadvantage.

Women are often faced by disadvantage that is embedded in the norms and structures of different policies and practices. Despite the great advances made by women over the past 100 years, women still disproportionately experience discrimination and inequality across a range of areas.

Women have less access to political power and to decision-making across a range of public bodies and so are under-represented in both national and local government; women are more likely to experience domestic abuse during their lives; and women have less access than men to income, earnings, pensions and material resources such as cars or housing.

Although young women tend to do very well at school, their academic success is not borne out in the workplace where they are less likely to progress in their careers and experience unequal pay in comparison to their male peers.

We do recognise, however, that there are areas where men also experience disadvantage, for example - by workplace cultures that do not recognise or support their family or childcare responsibilities and so deny them the opportunity to take advantage of flexible working arrangements. Men also may not be recognised routinely as active parents by family services and they too experience poor health outcomes across a range of health issues that do not properly take account of their needs as men and boys.

The factors that contribute to this inequality between women and men are complex and inter-related. Not all women experience discrimination and prejudice in the same ways because inequality for women can also be exacerbated by social and economic disadvantage and by the key issues faced by women living in rural areas, as well as other kinds of discrimination and prejudice such as racism, ageism, homophobia, or discrimination against disabled people. These affect both women and men, but tends to have a greater impact on women because of the underlying gender inequalities that are embedded in our society.