Let’s hear it from the boys

Karla Dunbar & Daniella Segal
Topics Gender Age

Addressing attitudes to gender equality
from millennial men

The state of play

Photo of an attractive young woman walking  tagged with the word "Avocado Toast";  A young man  is looking over his shoulder at the with an expression that implies sexual objectification.  He is tagged with word Millennials. Another young woman who is walking with the young man observes his attitude to the other woman and is looking at him is disgust. She is tagged with the words, A stable career, property ownership, health insurance, supperannuation, the financial security to start a family.'1

According to current conversations millennials, more so than previous generations, are attracted to employers with corporate social responsibility values that align to their own and avocado on toast. Both of which seem reasonable and delicious to us.

New research has shown that young men, in particular, are actually averse to gender equality, and this has important implications for workplace and culture.

The recent study by the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation explored the generational attitudes of men and women to issues of gender equality.

The resulting report, From Girls to Men, disrupts the assumption that that men’s views towards gender equality have been getting more progressive over time.

The results reveal that, despite having a high level of ‘knowledge and understanding about the nature of gender inequality’ in Australia, a growing number of men, feel ‘alienated from the process of change and are backsliding into traditional value systems’ 2.

Globally this is reflected in some young men who have found solace among masculinised narratives, anti-feminism and the racial politics of the alt-right 3.

88% The vast majority of Australians agree that gender inequality is still a problem in Australia. 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis     41% Australian men believe that political correctness gives women an advantage in the workplace

46% Australian men believe that gender equality measures do not take men into account. 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis   42% Australian men believe that men and boys are increasingly excluded from measures to improve gender equality 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis4.

The results shown above, reveal that more so than other generations, millennial men view themselves as outsiders and feel excluded from one of the key areas workplaces are addressing: gender equality.

This shift is as complex as it sounds. While there has been a decline in traditional views towards women, there is a large group of young men who moderately support gender equality but also have a ‘fear of change and increased economic insecurity’.

However, it should be iterated that millennials are an extremely diverse group in terms of social income, cultural background, religion, and educational background. Our generational category ranges across a broad age group (24 to 38 years) who may be at very different stages in their life.

Organisations should always be cautious in implementing workplace strategies that target unique characteristics of generations, as stereotyping in the workplace can create more harm than good. 5

We know from DCA’s [email protected] that inclusion is good for business. If you work in an inclusive team you are ten times more likely to be highly effective than workers in a non-inclusive team, nine times more likely to innovate and 5 times more likely to provide excellent customer / client service. It is not only relevant within a broader social context, it is a business imperative for teams to be inclusive across the board.

For Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) practitioners, the key questions become: how well are we including young men in our D&I initiatives? And how can we use evidence to engage young men in gender equality initiatives?

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