Leading Expert on Males and Masculinity Discusses Gender Equality

By Jenny Hertel

Thursday, April 14, 2016

“What we know is we cannot fully empower women and girls, unless we engage boys and men.”

Those words were spoken on April 12 by Dr. Michael Kimmel, one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities, a featured TED Talk speaker, and the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, when he presented Engaging Men for Gender Equality in the Whittenberger Auditorium at 7pm.

Kimmel explained that to achieve true gender equality, we must confront men’s sense of entitlement. He shared a story about when he appeared on a TV talk show with three men who felt they had been the victims of workplace discrimination. The show’s title was “A Black Woman Stole My Job.” Each of the men described how they were passed over for a jobs or promotions for which they believed themselves qualified.

When it was his turn to respond, Kimmel said he had one question about one word in the title of the show. He asked them about the word “my”. Where did they get the idea that it was “their” job? Why wasn’t the show called “A Black Woman Got a Job” or “A Black Woman got the Job?”

That sense of entitlement, Kimmel said, is what lies beneath the surface of most men’s resistance to women’s equality. They believe gender equality is a “zero-sum game”, meaning if women win, then men lose.

Kimmel explained that is not the case, however, and, to help mean realize that, we need to make an evidence based, empirical case that gender equality is not only good for women, but it is also good for them and those around them.

As an example, Kimmel cited a report by the Families and Work Institute that found that marriages were more successful when there was equity in the relationship. Basically, when men shared in the household chores and care of children, they were healthier – they smoked less, drank less, and took recreational drugs less often, as well as exercised more and regularly visited doctors for routine screenings.

Additionally, they were more psychologically healthy, being diagnosed with less depression, Kimmel said. The men with an equal share in the chores also lived longer and reported having more sex.

And, their children were also physically and psychologically healthier and had lower incidences of ADHD, had higher grades.

This, Kimmel said, shows that if women win, then so does everyone.

The talk  was co-sponsored by Google, the IU Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, the SOIC PIT Crew (Promoting Inclusivity in Technology), and SOIC Women in Computing.

The video can be viewed on CEWiT's Youtube page or below.