Why gender equality is important to me: five male perspectives
It’s no secret that equality and diversity spaces are dominated by women even though there are increasing efforts to get men involved. But why is this still the case? The simple truth is gender equality benefits everyone, men included, and gender equality work is more likely to succeed when men play a part. At the Babraham Institute, we’re glad to have men from all levels involved in equality4success. This International Men’s Day, a few members past and present share their reasons for being on the team.
Michael Wakelam – Director
Gender equality is an issue affecting all. Whilst it is clear that we mostly these days recognise that it is wrong and inappropriate to discriminate against men or women on the basis of their gender, subtle discriminatory unconscious categorisation can affect all sexes. It is important that we all reflect upon our actions, particularly as managers; however it is also important that we recognise ourselves and our individuality as both men and women and remember that certain issues affect men more particularly through their inability to fully express their emotions and address mental health issues. Indeed the suicide rate in the UK is three times higher for men than women. Men in particular need to recognise that talking about your feelings and your problems is not a sign of weakness.
Simon Andrews – Head of Core Facility
I’ve always noticed working with people who feel respected and empowered creates a positive atmosphere and allows us to produce our best science. A lot of emphasis has rightly been placed on gender or racial inequality, but they are a part of a widespread and interconnected set of biases which affect everyone to different extents. It is important to me that everyone should realise that discrimination in any form is something we should be working towards recognising and addressing and that is why I am a member of the equality4success committee. International Men’s Day is an ideal opportunity to encourage more men to take an active role in tackling inequality in whatever way they can.
Andrew Malcolm – PhD researcher
Growing up in a predominantly equal and progressive household I always felt strongly that there was a disparity in the way I was brought up compared to how I was socialised by the behaviour of the other boys and men I was surrounded by. It wasn’t until many years later that I learnt about toxic masculinity and the devastating effects it can have on men such as isolation, ritualised humiliation, problems in body image and increased rates of suicide.
Beyond my advocating gender equality in solidarity with women and LGBTQ+ individuals, I advocate for men to help action change by engaging in the narrative surrounding these issues. Realising these issues are not solely for women to change takes us closer toward equality and is a huge leap toward tackling toxic behaviours which are not only incredibly damaging to women and those undergoing double-discrimination but also which set men up for failure in the long run. To achieve equality, we need to have everyone empathetic, listening and engaged in the discussion.
Simon Rudge – Senior Research Associate
For me it’s a no brainer - championing gender equality benefits everyone! I’ve always had a strong sense of fairness from when I was young and being on the equality4success committee gives me an opportunity to do something about the imbalances I see. I think it’s important for people who have the ability to speak up to do so.
Simon Walker – Head of Core Facility
Men often feel under pressure to succeed, which is usually equated with having a well-paid or highly respected job. In a family environment, the cost of this ‘success’ can be little time spent with children and a resentful partner obliged to take on the majority of childcare/housework and put their career on hold. I equate success with balancing both career and family, so that one does not dominate the other.
Part of what being involved in the efforts to bring greater gender equality means for me is challenging our perceptions of what being a successful father means and consider what more can be done to help fathers balance their family and work lives. This doesn’t just benefit men, but also means children have a father fully involved in their upbringing, and their partners are free to pursue their own careers.
If our team has inspired you to get more involved in supporting gender equality, here are a few first steps men can take:
- Educate yourself and others about the benefits of gender equality for everyone.
- Find out simple actions you can take to create an inclusive workplace.
- Do your part at home, not just at work.
What will you be doing this International Men’s Day to create gender equality?