Though aspects of the gender equality gap are still in existence, there is one aspect where women have fast caught up with men. Unfortunately, it’s the amount of alcohol they drink and the health problems that come with it.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia sifted through 68 separate studies that looked into the drinking habits of 4 million men and women, across 36 countries, born between 1891 and 2001. The study is published in the journal BMJ Open.
Their data analysis found that men born in the early 1900s were 2.2 times more likely than females to consume alcohol and 3 times more likely to drink problematic amounts. Men born at the end of the 20th century, however, are just 1.1 times more likely to drink than women and 1.2 times more likely to drink problematic levels.
Developing health problems from drinking has also become more equally distributed over the past century, too – going from men being 3.6 times more likely than women to obtain drink-related health issues to just 1.3 times more likely.
The researchers believe the trend of heavier boozing among women has been growing since 1966 onwards, but a new increase is also being pushed by young women born between 1991 and 2000. As the authors noted, these calculations did not necessarily show whether men are drinking less or women are drinking more.
However, many health campaigners believe that changing social attitudes towards casual drinking and marketing aimed at women could be to blame for the shrinking gap.
“Since the 1950s we’ve seen women’s drinking continue to rise,” said Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, according to The Guardian.
“Drinking at home has continued to increase and because alcohol is so cheap and easily available it’s become an everyday grocery item. We’ve also seen a concerted effort from the alcohol industry to market products and brands specifically to women,” she added.
Study author Associate Professor Tim Slade hopes this new insight can change perceptions on alcohol consumption and help raise awareness that problems with alcohol can affect both genders.
"We need to ensure that education campaigns addressing the harms of alcohol use are designed to appeal to both men and women. We also need to reduce the attitudinal and structural barriers that get in the way of women seeking treatment for alcohol-related problems," Slade said in a statement.