beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Research Publication

Scottish Social Attitudes 2015: attitudes to discrimination and positive action

Published: 30 Sep 2016
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781786524744

This report explores attitudes to discrimination and positive action in Scotland in relation to: age, disability, gender, race, religion, gender reassignment and sexual orientation.

103 page PDF

1.1MB

103 page PDF

1.1MB

Contents
Scottish Social Attitudes 2015: attitudes to discrimination and positive action
Key findings

103 page PDF

1.1MB

Key findings

This report presents findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes ( SSA) study of public attitudes to discrimination and positive action in Scotland. As this is the fourth time that SSA has included questions on attitudes to discrimination it also provides valuable insights into how public attitudes have changed over time.

The main aims of the questions included in SSA 2015 were:

  • To measure the extent and character of discriminatory attitudes in Scotland in 2015 - including comparing attitudes to different groups and in different contexts
  • To explore the extent of support for positive action to try and achieve equality for different groups, and
  • To examine how attitudes have changed over time

General attitudes to prejudice

In 2015 nearly 7 in 10 (69%) felt that 'Scotland should do everything it can to get rid of all kinds of prejudice'. This figure has remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2015. However, the proportion of people who felt that sometimes there was a good reason to be prejudiced fell from 28% in 2010 to 22% in 2015.

There appears to be a trend towards people in Scotland holding more positive attitudes to diversity. Between 2010 and 2015, there was a 10 percentage point decline, from 43% to 33%, in the proportion of people who said that they would rather live in an area 'where most people are similar to you'. Rather more, amounting to nearly a half (47%), said they would prefer to live in an area 'with lots of different kinds of people'.

In 2015, 4 in 10 (40%) agreed that 'people from outside Britain who come to live in Scotland make the country a better place', a significant increase from 2010 when around 3 in 10 (33%) held the same view. Compared with 2010, people in 2015 were also less likely to agree that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims, people from Eastern Europe or black or Asian people came to live in Scotland.

However, in contrast, people were still as concerned as they have been previously about the impact of immigration on the labour market. In 2015, around a third (30%) agreed that 'people who come to Scotland from Eastern Europe take jobs away from other people in Scotland' and around a quarter (26%) said the same for people from ethnic minorities. While this represents a significant decline on the figures for 2010, it simply represents a return to levels previously recorded in 2006. For example, in 2006, 32% agreed that people from Eastern Europe take jobs away from people in Scotland, this increased to 37% in 2010% before declining to 30% in 2015.

Discriminatory attitudes have been shown to be associated with whether or not people know someone from a group who share certain protected characteristics. Between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of people who did not know anyone who is gay or lesbian, has a mental health problem or is a Muslim declined. However, a higher proportion of people did not know someone who is Muslim (41%) than did not know someone who has a mental health problem (19%), someone from a different racial or ethnic background (19%), or someone who is gay or lesbian (15%).

In 2015, just under a fifth (18%) of people believed that 'sexual relations between two adults of the same sex' were wrong. The proportion who say that same sex relationships are wrong has been declining steady over time since 2000 when nearly half (48%) believed that same sex relationships were wrong.

Personal relationships and employment

Relationships

Respondents were asked if they would be happy or unhappy if a close relative married or formed a long-term relationship with someone from one of nine different groups of people who share certain protected characteristics. People were most likely to say they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying someone who cross-dresses in public (39% said they would be unhappy) followed by someone who has undergone gender reassignment (32%) and a Gypsy/Traveller (31%). These were the same groups of people about which negative attitudes were most likely to be expressed in 2010. However, there was a decline between 2010 and 2015 in the proportion who said they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying someone from these three groups. There was a decline of 17 percentage points with regards to someone who has undergone gender reassignment (49% to 32%) though there was only a more modest 6 percentage point decline in the proportion who said they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying a Gypsy/Traveller.

Equity and participation in the labour market

Respondents were asked how suitable or unsuitable they thought someone from one of seven groups of people who share certain protected characteristics would be as a primary school teacher. Gypsy/Travellers were viewed as the group least suited to being a primary school teacher, with around a third (34%) saying they would be unsuitable. Similar proportions felt that someone aged 70 (31%) and someone who experiences depression from time to time (29%) would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher. Concern was least likely to be expressed about a black or Asian person, with only 3% saying that they would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher.

The four groups that attracted the highest levels of discriminatory attitudes in 2010 remained the same in 2015: Gypsy/Travellers, someone aged 70, someone who experiences depression from time to time and someone who has undergone gender reassignment. However, there has been a decrease between 2006 and 2015 in the proportion of people who thought that someone from these four groups would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher. In the case of a Gypsy/Traveller attitudes towards their suitability as a primary school teacher had remained the same between 2006 and 2010. But between 2010 and 2015 the proportion who thought a Gypsy/Traveller would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher declined from 46% to 34%. In contrast, there has been a steady decline since 2006 in the proportion saying that someone aged 70, someone who experiences depression from time to time and someone who has undergone gender reassignment would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher.

Why are attitudes changing?

Discriminatory views about someone marrying a close relative have declined most with regards to people who cross-dress, someone who has undergone gender reassignment and lesbian and gay people. This appears to be, in part, related to a longer-term decline in the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes towards lesbian and gay people. Those who said that same sex relationships were 'rarely' or 'not at all wrong' were not only much less likely to say that they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying someone of the same sex, but were also much less likely to say they would be unhappy about a relative marrying someone who cross-dresses or who has undergone gender reassignment.

Discriminatory attitudes towards a close relative marrying someone with certain protected characteristics have declined across all subgroups in Scotland, though, on occasion, the views of some groups have changed more markedly than others.

For example, in 2010 and 2015 those who were 65 or older and those with no formal educational qualifications were more likely, than younger people and those with any level of educational qualification, to be unhappy about a close relative marrying someone of the same sex. Between 2010 and 2015 the proportion of people aged 65 or over who said they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying someone of the same sex declined by 26 percentage points, greater than the decline in the proportion who held this view among those aged 18 to 29 years old (14 percentage points). So in this case, while attitudes have changed most amongst both older and younger people, the age gap in attitudes has narrowed.

Similarly between 2010 and 2015, there was a decline of 33 percentage points in the proportion of people with no formal educational qualifications who said they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying someone of the same sex compared with a smaller, 9 percentage point decline among those educated to degree level. So again attitudes changed in all groups, but more so amongst those who previously were more likely to express a discriminatory attitude.

However, with regards to other groups, for example, someone who has undergone gender reassignment, views have changed the most among those who already held the most positive views. In 2010, 39% of those aged 18 to 29 years old said they would be unhappy if a close relative married someone who had undergone gender reassignment compared with 13% in 2015, a decline of 26 percentage points. In comparison there was only a 14 percentage point decline in the proportion of those aged 65 or over who said they would be unhappy.

Fewer people in 2015 felt that someone from any of the seven groups with certain protected characteristics included in the survey would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher. The decline in discriminatory attitudes was most marked among those who were already less likely to regard people as unsuitable, most notably younger people and those with higher levels of educational qualifications. For example, there was a 22 percentage point decline in the proportion of 18 to 29 year olds who said that a Gypsy/Traveller was unsuitable as a primary school teacher compared with only a 12 percentage point decline among those aged 65 or over.

Overall, the views of those who were more accepting of diversity, for example those who would prefer to live in an area 'with lots of different kinds of people' changed no more and no less than the attitudes of those who were less accepting of diversity. However, in relation to believing that Gypsy/Travellers were unsuitable as primary school teachers, the proportion who thought they were unsuitable declined more among those who knew someone from a different ethnic background than among those who did not (13 percentage point decline compared with a 3 percentage point decline).

Employment

Social networks

SSA 2015 asked people's views on the use of existing social networks for job recruitment. Over three-quarters (78%) said that a joiner should be free to employ a friend whereas only 57% said that a Polish hotel owner should be free to employ other Polish immigrants. Conversely, twice as many people felt that the Polish hotel owner should advertise the job so that anyone could apply (43%) than thought that the joiner should advertise for the job (22%). Those who were more likely to think that the joiner should be free to employ a friend were men, those in the highest income group and employers, managers and professionals. In contrast, those who were more likely to think that the Polish hotel owner should be free to employ people from Poland were those who disagreed that 'people from Eastern Europe are taking jobs away from other people in Scotland'.

Parental leave

A higher proportion of people thought that mothers should have the right to up to six months paid time off work after their child is born than thought that fathers should have the same right (85% compared with 55% respectively). However, there was a significant increase, from 46% in 2010 to 55% in 2015, in the proportion who thought that fathers should have the right to six months paid parental leave. Those more likely to support paid paternity leave were people under 65 years old, women and those living in the least deprived areas of Scotland. Although many still did not support paternity leave, there were much higher levels of support for fathers to have 5 days paid leave a year to look after a child under 5 when they are ill. Around 9 in 10 (89%) thought that fathers should have this right, similar to the 94% who thought that mothers should have this right.

Age and employment

In 2015, around 1 in 5 (21%) felt that 'older people should be made to retire to make way for younger age groups' whereas three-quarters (76%) felt that 'it is wrong to make people retire just because they have reached a certain age'. These figures have remained unchanged since 2005. People aged 65 or over, those who were retired and those who felt they were living comfortably on their present income were all more likely to think that people should be made to retire to make way for younger age groups.

Attitudes to religious dress and symbols

In 2015,only a minority thought that an employer should be able to insist a Sikh man should take off his turban at work (20%), a Christian woman should take off her crucifix (15%) and a Muslim woman should take off her headscarf (18%). There has been a small but significant decline, from 23% in 2010 to 18% in 2015, in the proportion who believe that an employer should be able to insist a Muslim woman removes her headscarf at work. However, a sizeable majority (65%) thought that an employer should be able to insist that a Muslim woman remove her veil while at work. Older people, those who prefer to live in an area where people are similar to them and those who agreed that 'Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Scotland' were all more likely to think that an employer should be able to insist that a Muslim woman remove her veil at work.

Equal opportunities and positive action

Equal opportunities

Respondents were asked whether attempts to promote equal opportunities have gone too far, or not gone far enough, for women, black people and Asians, and lesbian and gay people. The most commonly held view in 2015 was that attempts to give equal opportunities were 'about right'. However, since 2010 there has been a decline in the proportion who felt that 'attempts to promote equal opportunities' have gone too far for all three groups. For example, in 2010, 1 in 5 (20%) said attempts to give equal opportunities to lesbian and gay people had gone too far, but this figure declined to 10% in 2015. Those more likely to think that equal opportunities had gone too far, both for black people and Asians and for lesbian and gay people were older people, those with lower levels of, or no, formal qualifications, those in the lowest income group and those living in the most deprived areas. Being less accepting of diversity and not knowing someone from a group who share certain protected characteristics were also associated with the view that attempts to give equal opportunities had gone too far.

Attitudes towards promotion and equal pay

Respondents were asked to assess if a woman who had taken a year off after having a baby was less deserving of promotion than a woman who had not. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) felt that both women were equally deserving of a promotion. In addition, two scenarios explored attitudes towards equal pay. First, around 9 in 10 (92%) felt that it was wrong for a man to be paid more than a woman for moving and lifting boxes around a warehouse. Second, 65% said that it was wrong for an employee to get paid more than another employee with a disability who received a grant to support him at work. Those more likely to think that it was right for the employee to get paid more than the employee with a disability were men, those with no formal qualifications and those who prefer to live in an area where people are similar to themselves.

Positive action

The majority of people thought women (65%) and black and Asian people (57%) should have extra opportunities to get training and qualifications in companies where they are under-represented in senior jobs. However, only 40% thought that someone with a disability should automatically get an interview for a job and 20% thought that it was fair for a company to only interview women for a new job. However, the proportion who thought it was unfair to give women and black and Asian people extra training and to give an automatic interview to a disabled person declined slightly between 2010 and 2015. For example, in 2010, 63% thought it was unfair to give a disabled person an automatic interview compared with 58% in 2015. At the same time, though, the proportion who thought that a woman-only shortlist was unfair remained stable at 78%. Those most likely to oppose these measures of positive action were men, younger people, those educated to degree level, those in the highest income group and employers.


Contact