EOC Announces Findings of the Exploratory Study on Gender Stereotyping and Its Impact on Male Gender
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (Thursday, 10 May 2012) announced the findings of the “Exploratory Study on Gender Stereotyping and Its Impact on Male Gender”, which was based on 340 questionnaires, 10 focus group discussion sessions, 9 individual interviews and two open seminars conducted in 2011 by the Gender Research Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The Study aims to bring to light the underlying and intertwining difficulties encountered by men in all walks of life, and to identify possible solutions in empowering the male gender. Furthermore, it is used to collect information in a bid to raising people’s awareness of men’s worries about their wellbeing and formulating effective strategies to promote gender equality and gender respect.
Key findings of the Survey
1. Most men considered paid employment the most important element in the construction of their self-identity. A paid employment enabled them to support their family financially and allowed them to take up the culturally defined gender role for men.
2. Manhood is constructed through comparison with women. Men gain self-esteem when they have a competitive advantage over women. In such an atmosphere of self or socially asserted expectations, those men who do not meet the expectations will lose face, and have self-esteem and self-confidence damaged.
3. De-industrialization has stripped many skilled job opportunities from men, who found it difficult to adjust to the demands of elementary service jobs. Such changes have made it difficult for men to have absolute advantage and created stress for them.
4. As the society still considers women as the suppressed group and social policies being lop-sided favouring women, men do not receive any protection and support in dealing with their stress derived from social, financial and traditional gender ideologies.
5. In a typical family, both husband and wife have to work in order to make ends meet. The wife has actually contributed to reducing the financial strain of the family. Other than financial pressure, men are increasingly aware of the importance to share family responsibilities such as household chores and child care.
6. The largest difference in perceived consensus of men and women with their partners were on household chores and ways of expressing affections. Men indicated that they were mostly bothered by work and health among the different types of daily hassles. When compared with women, men experienced significantly more hassles in financial matters, intimacy behaviours, sexual orientation and addiction.
7. Both women and men were relatively more effective in employing coping strategies to solve problems but less effective in coping with psychological stress. Men were weaker than women in their social support network across the aspects of family, friends and intimate friends.
In view of the challenges and problems faced by men, the following recommendations are proposed to achieve gender equality and to address the issue of gender differences :-
(i) The Government and related organizations such as EOC should work more closely with schools and education bodies to promote gender equality.
(ii) Schools should incorporate “gender equality” in their curricula and frontline teachers and administrative staff need to receive training on “gender mainstreaming” .
(iii) In order to change the traditional gender norms, relevant organizations need to use the media as a platform to promote ideas of gender equality.
(iv) At the policy level, gender-sensitive social service policies should be developed so as to meet men and women’s needs and to help relieve their pressure in the social and economic transformation.
(v) Gender differences should be taken into account in the development of social policies. The Government should strengthen social services that meet men’s needs such as setting up male specialist clinics and sheltered centres for abused men. Family-friendly labour policies such as paternity leave should be introduced to encourage men’s participation in family.
(vi) The overhaul of the Women’s Commission into the Commission for Gender Equality might be the first step towards the advocacy of equality in both genders.
For media enquiry, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.
Equal Opportunities Commission
10 May 2012