July 12, 2010 by Ilene H. Lang
What are men so afraid of?
Seventy-four percent of the men we interviewed in our recent series, Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives, identified fear as a barrier to supporting gender equality.
Some feared equality could only come at the expense of men—the zero-sum myth I wrote about previously. Others feared that they would make mistakes—such as an inappropriate comment—in the presence of women and open themselves up to criticism. Still others feared they would be made fun of by other men—be called “wimps” or “whipped.”
Perhaps the only thing men should really fear is better health, higher profit and more personal freedom. Not too scary after all, huh?
We know that companies with more women in senior positions and in the boardroom, on average, outperform those with fewer. And when the burden is off men to act macho or be the sole provider, everyone wins. They get more time with their kids and closer relationships with their partner or spouse, not to mention the freedom to define themselves according to their own values rather than traditional gender roles. And when men lose the macho “go it alone” attitude and share more with the people in their lives, they experience less stress and better mental and physical health.
So listen up, guys. Your job, health and freedom are at stake.