Achieving Gender Equality In The Workplace Requires Help From Men, Study Finds, And It’s Sadly Not As Much Of A No-Brainer As It Should Be
In order to achieve economic, political, and social harmony and equality, we all need to work together — no matter which gender we identify as. And we have proof that that's what it's going to take now, too: The conclusion of a new study from Cambridge academics asserts that men need to promote gender equality in the workplace if we're ever going to make any lasting, meaningful changes. And it turns out that there's a lot more they could be doing to assist us with that literally right this very minute.
Researchers at Murray Edwards College recently published a report studying the responses of 40 men about how to create more gender-balanced and women-friendly work environments. The study, called Collaborating with Men, was launched after women at the college complained about experiencing sexism at work which they said was preventing them from moving forward with their careers.
The researchers concluded that men could implement five different relatively simple strategies to facilitate changes at work: Creating a mentoring system centered around facilitating opposite gender mentor-mentee relationships, challenging misogynistic comments, holding supportive meetings to discuss disagreements, asking men to credit women more for their ideas, and having mixed genders teams review projects when completed. The men were also encouraged to actively make an effort to build "more supportive" relationships with their female colleagues by actually listening to their concerns over weekly meetings. Murray Edwards College said their next move was to implement these suggestions in the workplace and gauge the results.
Head researcher Dr. Jill Armstrong said according to Cambridge News, “Small, incremental changes in the behavior of individual men will add up to big changes for women’s advancement into the top levels of careers." She continued, "Many men involved in this research have suggested ideas to help their understanding of the problems women report, to improve relationships between male and female colleagues, and help level the playing field for women. The best solutions," Armstrong added, "will be those that adapt easily into the normal working day and positively improve the workplace culture for men as well as women.”
It may seem like a no-brainer; to create gender equality, of course everybody needs to be on board with it, right? Sadly, though, it's not quite that simple. The burden of solving gender equality still frequently falls on women's shoulders to fix, as evinced by the fact that we're still seeing things like a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal claiming that in order to get around sexism, women should simply disguise the fact that they're women by not going by their full names. (The author of the piece later apologized for it, saying, "I hurt women and I utterly failed to help, which I wholly regret and I apologize for having done.") What's more, with over half of American men recently revealing that they don't believe gender inequality exists, something tells me we still have a lot of convincing to do.
There's also something to be said for the point gender equality ultimately helps everyone, because the patriarchy hurts everyone — no matter how you identify. For example, modern societies continue to slut-shame women for expression sexual desire whilst simultaneously pressuring men to reject commitment in favor of conquests. There's also the issue that many men are embarrassed to speak out as victims of domestic abuse, largely due to a culture of toxic masculinity. Indeed, the perceived fear of looking weak is a vital issue: In the UK, suicide is the most common cause of death of men under the age of 50. There's no way that's a coincidence.
There's so much evidence to suggest that feminism will help literally everyone. And hopefully with studies like this illuminating the problems so many women face day in, day out, we can all work towards changing the mindset of our male co-workers, too.