How Men Benefit From Gender Equality

More and more men are learning that not just women benefit from gender equality but that men too benefit both professionally and personally.  When teams are led to success by making full use of their talent pools through gender partnership, their organizations are more successful and therefore are more successful leaders themselves.  The business case is well documented.

In Part 4 of this series entitled, Gender Equality Has Something In It For Everyone-Including Men, Dr. Kimmel shares how men benefit from gender equality on a personal level in their marriages and with their families.  And additional to consider is that when fathers support gender equality for their daughters, their daughters are more likely to be successful in the world and of course as parents, there’s intrinsic reward in that.  We invite you read the transcript below or watch the video above. 

Dr. Michael Kimmel speaks:

So, I want to make a personal case to men that we are stakeholders in the conversation about gender equality.   That it is important to us.  And so let me give you some of the research on this.  

Some of you probably know the research of John Gottman, psychologist at University of Washington, he's really interesting, he studies successful marriages.  So this is just sort of a trigger warning, this is the hetero-normative part of my talk. He studies successful marriages. Now to me as a sociologist, this is already really interesting….we have one variable when we study marriages, intact a divorce.  And frankly as you know in content there are plenty of different intact marriages, some couples hate each other's guts, other couples are completely madly in love, they've been completely into each other madly in love for 58 years and you know them, you see them, you see them like walking in a park holding hands and not just for stability, or you see them in a restaurant looking lovingly into each other's eyes and you say to yourself, as anyone would, “How do they do it?  What makes a successful marriage succeed?  What makes a thriving marriage thrive?”  And here's what Gottman finds, he finds two things; 

It's more about equity, the perception of fairness

First, he says largely it would be under the umbrella of equality.  The more equality in the marriage the better but for older, that is to say, baby boomers and greatest generation, it may not be equality exactly.  It's more about equity, the perception of fairness because in previous generations the idea of the husband working outside the home and making the living, the wife staying home taking care of the children, taking care of the house was perceived by both as fair.  And as long as both perceived it as fair what in they wanted, the marriage was likely to succeed. Where marriages fail, is where one or both perceive that this is inequitable, that this is not what they want and that they feel resentment that they're put in a position that they don't want to be in.  So he finds that among younger couples, the more equal the relationship the better the marriage.  

Now it took a sociologist Scott Coltrane, currently the interim president at University of Oregon, it took Scott Coltrane to figure out what are the variables that we can use to measure this equality in a relationship and he came up with two; one for women and one for men.  The variable for women is, now remember this is across a lot of different cultures, the variable for women is, can the woman own property in her own name after marriage?  Now you're probably saying to yourself,  “Well, we've had that for you know,  centuries right?”  Not so.  In fact it's in my lifetime.  I remember the day I was five years old, I remember going to the bank with my mom, the reason I know I was five is because I still have the visceral feeling of like remembering lifting up my hand to hold her hand as we walked in the bank on the day my mother opened a checking account in her own name that didn't require my father as a cosigner.  She was so happy, that is in my lifetime.  So that's women's economic autonomy.  

When men do more housework and childcare they have more equal relationships

The other variable, how much housework and childcare does the husband do?  When men do more housework and childcare they have more equal relationships, and the data here is quite persuasive. Now how do men typically think about housework and childcare?  How many of you have kids? How many of you have kids? You know this discourse that we have in this culture about quality time right?  Quality time, you all know that is complete bullshit.  Those of you who are parents know full well that you don't say to your son, “Son, come home after school on Friday, we'll kick that soccer ball around.”   Because your son is gonna say to you, “Oh sorry dad, I'm busy but I'll text you.”  

I don't believe in quality time for a second  

I believe in quantity time

I don't believe in quality time for a second.  I believe in quantity time.  I believe in doing the routine household tasks that nobody gets an award for, nobody gets to write a book about what an awesome dad they are, nobody gets to be father of the year, you just do those sorts of things.  Not to be too autobiographical but what quantity time means to me,  is you know parents, you know those awe moments with your kids?  Like in my case, the 43rd time you are watching Toy Story with your then six year old and he leans into you and he says, “Oh daddy, this is so great!  I love you so much!” ...and what do you know at that moment?  This would not have happened had I not watched Toy Story 42 other times.  That's quantity time.  You get the quality from the quantity time.  It doesn't get scheduled, it happens because you put in those hours.

You get the quality from the quantity time

It doesn't get scheduled

it happens because you put in those hours

So currently men have two ideas, two phrases, that we use about how we deal with housework and childcare; we pitch in and we help out and I'm going to propose that we simplify that to one word and that word is share because the data here are quite persuasive.  I'm going to make the case to the men in this room to support gender equality, I'm now going to try to motivate you.  

when men share housework and childcare their kids are happier, healthier, do better in school

Okay one, when men share housework and childcare their kids do better in school,they have lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement.   They're less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, they are less likely to see a child psychiatrist, they are less likely to be diagnosed with child depression, and they are less likely to be put on any kind of medication.  So when men share housework and childcare their kids are happier, healthier, do better in school.  

when men share housework and childcare their wives are happier and healthier  

Okay maybe that's not enough of a motivation for men.  When men share housework and childcare their wives are happier, duh!  Not only that but their wives are healthier, their wives are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to see a psychiatrist, less likely to be put on medication, more likely to go to the gym, and they report much higher levels of marital satisfaction.  So when men share housework and childcare their wives are happier and healthier.  

when men share housework and childcare the men are happier and healthier

Alright maybe that's not enough of a motivation for men.  When men share housework and childcare the men are happier and healthier, they smoke less, they drink less, they take recreational drugs less often, they are more likely to go to doctors for routine screenings, less likely to go to the emergency room.  They are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be taking prescription medication.  So when men share housework and childcare the men are happier and healthier.  

When men share housework and childcare they have more sex

Alright maybe that's not enough of a motivation for men.  When men share housework and childcare they have more sex.

Now of these four fascinating findings which one do you think Men's Health magazine put on its cover?  Housework Makes Her Horny was what they called it, not when she does it.  That was two years ago they put that on their cover, just a couple of months ago they revisited it and now they call it Chore Play.  Now I want to say, "hold up" before I proceed, I want to caution the men in the room, these data is what we call longitudinal data.  They're collected over a really really long time. So I don't want the men in the room to sit there and think, “I'm doing the dishes tonight…” (that data is collected over a) really really long time.  Ok, so having said all of this, I want to sort of suggest one other thing.  So I believe that I think I've made the case right now that gender equality is in our interests as men, that it enables us to live the lives with our children, our partners, our families and ourselves that we say we want to live but I want to add one more piece to it because I think it's a very important piece for our meeting here today.....Pt. 5 and the closing summary is coming soon or you can watch it now on YouTube at this link.

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