In his TED Talk last spring, Michael Kimmel spoke about something he knows something about: men and privilege. Not only is he a middle-class white male (arguably the most privileged since the dawn of time, by his estimation), but he’s also a sociologist and author who studies how equality (or lack thereof) affects everyone, not just those left out in the cold.
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In his speech, Kimmel noted that gender equality isn’t just about equal pay (but we’d like to note that it’s a pretty big topic as of late) — it’s about equal roles, responsibilities, and rewards.
Ever think about how hard it is to be accepted in a gender-dominated job? This is as true for men who want to be a nurse or kindergarten teacher, as it is for women who want STEM jobs. The United Nations has noted this disparity on a global scale, calling for men to become engaged advocates for gender equality. If we are such a global society of patriarchal power struggles, then those that have the power must be engaged in the fight to redistribute it, right?
Equal Responsibilities (at work and home)
Studies show when households share responsibilities among both women and men, everybody is happier and healthier. There’s less stress, more longevity, even (gasp) more sex between couples who share the burdens at home. So how does this research come into play at work? Well, there are even studies about the benefits of sharing the “housekeeping” roles at work, like note taking or mentoring younger colleagues. Unfortunately, even the most recent of data show that women are more underrepresented the higher they climb on the corporate ladder.
We’re (hopefully) pretty aware of the gender wage gap out there (take a look at PayScale’s data package on Women at Work for some eye opening details), but there are other ways to look at rewards. Elle magazine noted that when you Photoshop the men out of photos of heads of state, it’s pretty clear how few women get elected to those roles.
It goes even further, when you consider the growing debate on not only maternity but paternity leave given to new parents. Netflix recently announced it’ll offer unlimited paid leave to mothers and fathers wanting some bonding time (and let’s face it, some nap time) with their newborns.
Even more, when we get equality at work, the business itself benefits with greater rewards, as shown in a 2014 MIT study. When you have equality, you get happier employees, less turnover, greater job satisfaction ratings, and greater productivity. And there’s nothing not to like about that.
Tell Us What You Think
Would you support gender equality in the workplace? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.