Gender Inequality: What's the problem?
Gender inequalities are everywhere
Gender inequalities are built into the systems and structures of our workplaces:
- Formally through policies and decision-making practices (e.g. denying promotion to part-time staff, as women are much more likely to work part-time than men), and
- Informally through norms and customs (e.g. ‘cultural fit’, ‘merit’, who gets included in or excluded in social and professional networks, language use, stereotypes, sexist and harassing behaviour).
Gender inequalities are also carried out by men and women at work:
- While only a minority of men engage in physical and sexual violence against women, many men, often without even realising it, practice other everyday forms of sexism.
Men benefit from gender inequality
Even if not intended or wanted, men receive benefits and advantages because of gender inequality. Research shows that:
- Male job applicants and staff are evaluated more positively than women,
- Men’s views are given more weight, and
- Male leaders gain advantage of stereotypical associations between masculinity and leadership – ‘Think Manager, Think Man’.
Men are part of the problem and the solution
We will not make much progress towards gender equality without men’s support.
- Not because women are weak and can’t do it on their own.
- Not because men have been left out and are now the victims.
- Because men are part of the problem.
How men think, behave, and how they relate to women and to other men, all play an important part in keeping gender inequalities alive. Men’s attitudes and behaviours may support the sexist status quo. Men have a vital role to play in building a world of gender equality – and many already are doing so. And there is much more that men can do.
In partnership with Dr Graeme Russell and Dr Michael Flood, two of Australia’s leading researchers in diversity and inclusion, DCA has developed, Men Make a Difference: Engaging Men on Gender Equality. The report examines the evidence for what works and what doesn’t, and recommends more effective ways to engage men to achieve gender equality at work.
The most effective ways to engage men on gender equality at work:
- Get the foundation right – ensure gender equality initiatives involve women and men as active and equal partners.
- Get the framing right – treat gender equality as a business issue, not a women’s issue.
- Go wide – make visible and target all key gender equality areas (i.e. paid work, power and decision making, financial security, personal safety, interpersonal work relationships, caring, and community involvement).
- Get the messaging right – to appeal to men as well as women.
- Engage a diversity of men – including men in different organisational roles and levels, and with a variety of demographic backgrounds (e.g. ages, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations).
- Educate about how to lead change effectively – by resourcing initiatives, being visible and persistent, and ‘walking the talk’.
- Make the connection between work and home – by implementing initiatives that encourage gender equality in caregiving.
- Make the connection between work and communities – by framing gender inequality as a societal/community problem.
- Build individuals’ gender confidence and capability – by providing opportunities for both men and women to change their mindsets, assumptions, and behaviours.
- Encourage men and women to challenge and change gender-biased organisational policies and practices.
Thank you to Programmed for their generous sponsorship of this research.
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The suggested citation for this report is:
Diversity Council Australia (M. Flood and G. Russell), Men Make a Difference: How to Engage Men on Gender Equality, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia, 2017.
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