‘Diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ – two buzz words cycling round offices, social media; rolling off activist tongues. For years we’ve gotten away with silent support – we’ve sat idle watching feminists fight for women. And that’s what gender equality seems to be about – women. Their lack of pay, progression, opportunities.
How can men relinquish their power? The idea of a female rise has led to a male fear – a worry men will suffer as women prosper. Men too, need a day dedicated to them. (It’s Friday 19th November – if you’re celebrating). A Guardian piece highlighted how some men believe women’s enhancement undermines theirs. They’re supposedly facing attacks on their gender. Can we progress women without some men crying victim?
Washington Post noted the men’s rights activists, arguing women should go back to housewives so men can be free from their “injustice”. The basic stereotype of men and women: Men have ambition, strength, good work ethic; women push babies in prams and answer phone calls beautifully. It’s under cease – in a way we’ve not seen since social-media. By saying women are just as strong, talented, driven, some feel we’re taking away from the great traits of men. But this narrow view fails to understand, the equality of women means the equality of men.
Studies prove men benefit
Research consistently proves all genders benefit when they’re at on an equal playing field. Gender equality doesn’t affect male life satisfaction. It actually helps increase it. Human Rights Careers notes equality can create more flexible work options and less pressure to conform to stereotypes. If we remove the traits of toxic masculinity, we can drop the expectation that fathers don’t require as much time with their children; that every man needs to aim for a CEO position. Perhaps more men can go to the doctors regularly, and discuss their emotions without feeling shame. And the worry of bills and income will be less singular – women can support the burden.
If men and women were equal economically, financially, politically, even sexually, surely, they’d understand each other better; enjoy better communication. There are attempts to paint gender equality as a zero-sum game (one person loses, another wins). The wavy lines around femininity (women can be anything they want) has opened the doors for women to have options. Why not open the same doors for men, so both genders can enjoy an open outlook. Whether that be a stay-at-home dad or a CEO woman.
In surveys, the vast majority of respondents don’t believe childcare emasculating. Sorry, Piers Morgan, but 75% of people globally agree that a stay-at-home dad looking after his children isn’t less of a man.
How we view gender equality differently
If science proves we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, editing old perceptions of gender, why are we moving at slugs’ pace to make things happen? It’s been a century (1918) since Parliament allowed women to vote.
Going back to the fear some men have (the zero-sum), men grow up encouraged to develop their masculine traits. “Boys will be boys”. It’s positive to compete, lead, fight, win. In the 90’s, the Spice Girls had young women wanting to adopt ‘lad culture’. Girls too, can choose friends over romance, drink what they like and swear without apology. Twenty years later, we’re telling men to not be so confident about their once favoured lack of emotional display and dominance. Some take it as a push back. A US report suggests almost 30% of men consider gender equality progress has come at their expense.
Research concludes men more likely believe gender equality has been achieved in their country. Men are also more likely to believe women are promoted to senior positions enough. Weforum.org looked at why men and women differ in their equality views. One reason the publication points to: men focus on “potential and “effort” while women look at “results”. For instance, men might put a policy in place which supports women – deeming that alone as change. Whereas women will look at a policy and judge its effect based on what its achieved.
What we can do to invite men in the conversation
The first obvious step involves how we talk about equality. Should we address it as a human rights issue and not simply a woman’s one? We should also look at zero-sum and consider how we give men the confidence to confront toxic masculinity without them feeling under threat. Much of this links to diminishing stereotypes of what it means to be a man.
What businesses can do
In the workplace, companies could support fathers in having more flexibility to spend time at home. Which could mean some home working hours away from the office.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), businesses can shift focus from what we shouldn’t do to what we should, in relation to supporting underrepresented groups. HBR additionally say it’s important to keep bringing forth evidence on how organisations benefit through profit, success and innovation when all gender and race feels included in leadership. Plus, companies can adapt their performance reviews to “look at every stage” of diversity and equity.
Gender equality needs men and women
The fight for equality isn’t a woman’s fight. It’s a people’s fight. One that benefits everyone. #MeToo felt like #YouToo – you have a voice now, what are you going to do about it? Social media is empowering women to step forward, we just need to ensure we’re empowering men to embrace the same equality movement.