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What does the men’s sector think about gender equality?

The Australian Government has invited feedback on its plan for a new National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality.

We surveyed people who work in or support the men's health sector, to find out what they think about gender equality and whether the Government should include a focus on the gender issues that impact men and boys. 

Close to 150 people completed our online survey, including people working for men's organisations (18%), people working in health (13%), people working in sectors related to health like education and social work (34%), men's health advocates (38%), men's health volunteers (21%) and academics (9%).

74% of people say they support the Government’s plans for a National Gender Equality Strategy and 85% think it should focus on both women and men. If the strategy focuses primarily on women's issues, 82% say it should be renamed the Women's Strategy.

85% are concerned that men and boys will be excluded from the strategy and 77% say we need a separate Men's Strategy to tackle the gender issues that impact men and boys. 

Challenging Gender Stereotypes 

We found strong support (82%) for work to challenge gender stereotypes that have a negative impact on people’s lives. 

97% say we shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate the fact that individual men and women can have strengths and virtues that don’t conform with gender stereotypes. 

At the same time, 76% say we shouldn’t be afraid to highlight general differences between men and women.

Improving Men’s Health 

80% say the Strategy should take account of health issues that have a greater impact on women and girls (e.g., eating disorders) as well as health issues that have a greater impact on men and boys (e.g., suicide).

In terms of men’s health, 86% say they would support a National Men’s Health Advisory Council to guide the delivery of the National Men’s Health Strategy, in addition to the existing Women’s Health Advisory Council.

In terms of the underlying causes of men’s poorer health outcomes when compared to women:

  • 84% highlight Government inaction on tackling the social determinants of men’s health like boys’ education, men’s experiences of fatherhood, men’s economic wellbeing, men’s working lives and men’s relationships/social connections.
  • 79% point to gender norms that make men less likely to take care of their health and seek help.
  • 76% highlight the lack of male-friendly health services that respond to men’s needs and preferences.
  • 74% say one of the causes is that the Government puts less time, money and resources into improving men’s health, compared to women’s health.

Male Carers and Parents

92% say we should challenge gender stereotypes that frame men and boys as not being good at caring or showing emotion.

82% say describing parenting in Australia as women experiencing a “motherhood penalty” and men experiencing a “fatherhood premium”, phrases used in the Government’s consultation documents, is an unhelpful gender stereotype.

74% think it's fair to say, that when a man and woman have children, most mums and dads make different but relatively equal sacrifices for the benefit of their families/children. 

86% say that if men were given better parental leave rights and paternity pay, dads could spend more time at home caring for their family, if they wanted to.

86% say separated fathers can face discrimination because of gender stereotypes about who is the best parent and 84% say single, separated fathers are impacted by gender inequality.

88% say that if the Government wants to achieve gender equality in the amount of time spent on unpaid care, it should help separated dads to spend more time caring for their children.

Preventing Violence Against Women and Men. 

75% support Government action to prevent violence against women and girls, with 99% saying Government policies should work to protect all victims regardless of gender. 

66% say they think more men should speak out and support current approaches to preventing violence against women and girls.

81% say they think more men would speak out about violence against women and girls if the conversation was more inclusive and welcomed a diversity of viewpoints.

43% say they would like to speak out about violence against women and girls, but in the current climate, 'I cannot speak openly about how I think we should tackle the issue'.

In terms of male victims, 89% say gender norms and stereotypes make it harder for male victims of family, domestic and sexual violence to get help and support.

84% say they think the Government should do more to help and support male victims/survivors of violence.

83% say they would support a standalone strategy to prevent intimate violence against men and boys. 

Workforce Segregation  

62% say the Government should take action to help more men get jobs in female-dominated industries like social work, teaching and health (including mental health and suicide prevention).

78% say men can be put off working as a teacher because of negative stereotypes about men working with children.

71% say men who do care work can face discrimination about their ability to do their job because of gender stereotypes.

Most people agreed that the Government should take action to tackle sexual harassment at work of women (66%) and men (61%).

Men’s Economic Disadvantage 

73% say there are ways that men face economic disadvantage compared to women that the Government should tackle.

80% say gender disadvantage can accumulate and impact men across their lives.

70% say men can be at risk of homelessness because of gender inequality.

67% men can be at risk of financial hardship because of gender inequality.

Including Men’s Issues in Gender Equality

88% say approaches to Gender Equality that focus on women’s issues but not men’s issues, can reinforce gender stereotypes that men don’t have problems and men don’t need to get help.

90% say the belief that women have problems and men are problems is an unhelpful gender stereotype and 89% say the belief that men should be strong and solve their own problems is an unhelpful gender stereotype.

In conclusion, the majority of people we surveyed want to see issues that impact men and boys either addressed by the National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality Strategy or by a standalone National Men's Strategy.

We have forwarded the findings of our sector survey to the Government for consideration. 



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