This master thesis is addressing two research questions: How have attitudes towards gender equality in South Africa changed over time? And what can explain variations in attitudes towards gender equality in South Africa? I.e., do differences in social structure explain the variation in this matter or can different value dimensions provide a better explanation?
In the thesis I describe how South African women have achieved gender empowerment and increased gender equality in many arenas in the time period 1990-2007. In the same time, the South African state has developed politically and economically. Meanwhile, South Africa is a developing country and a traditional society, and traditional values and attitudes towards women persist. In this thesis I am aiming to see if the developments towards gender equality on the national level have affected the attitudes on the individual level over a time period of seventeen years. I am applying two possible explanations for the variations in attitudes: Structural explanations and value-based explanations.
I am using statistical data from the World Values Surveys to answer the research questions, and by running bivariate and multivariate regression analyses. My results show that there has not been a positive shift in attitudes towards women in South Africa in this time period. In addition I have found that South Africa has not gone through a culture shift in the sense that value dimensions cannot explain variations in attitudes towards gender equality. Differences in social structure provide the best explanations. There are few consistent patterns over the time period studied. However, I find that the attitudinal gap between women and men is increasing, while age differences are becoming less important, and education level is the most important factor over time in explaining the variations in attitudes towards gender equality in South Africa.