Promoting one group and rarely the other is not promoting equality

posted by Joshua on August 1, 2017 in Inc.com
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This topic ends up being controversial, though I don’t think it should. People seem to have a hard time seeing that men face challenges, empathizing with them, or accepting that they/we aren’t a unified group trying to get power at women’s expense. I wrote this piece for Inc., but chose to publish it here instead.

I feel equality is important to write about, especially in business and entrepreneurship.

July saw harassment scandals in Silicon Valley, which prompted stories such as

There are also recent articles such as

The New York Times recently published

These articles and many like them suggest ways to change industries and business to promote more women in them. You will find no one who values and supports equality more than I, but I suggest that supporting one group is not the same as promoting equality.

I searched Inc.com for the word “women.” The first page returned articles that were favorable or helpful to women, such as

Some described problems with systems or, depending on how you read them, men, such as

Compare with the results searching for “men.” My top result was about a comic-book character: Three Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’.

No articles were favorable or helpful to men. On the contrary, several were negative to men or were about women, such as

Can you imagine a story like “How ‘Superman’ Can Change the Way Women Think (for the Better)” without backlash?

Are women better than men? I think a lot of people think so.

Any one of the articles on women and men seems fair. I’d like to see more women entrepreneurs, for example. I’d like to see things better for women in tech.

But the trend seems clear: there are fewer favorable or helpful articles for men.

When I think about it, I’d like to see more entrepreneurs in general, not just women, so while I’m glad to see people address problems that women uniquely face, the population of male entrepreneurs doesn’t reflect the population of men. In other words, men face biases too and just because some men succeed doesn’t mean it’s easy for men in general or even many men at all.

If a man faces biases, should we not help him because he’s male? If some men have advantages, does that mean all men do, just for being male?

I’d like to see things better for men in tech too. I feel like a headline like “Are Things Getting Better for Men in Tech” would get eye rolls or even attacks. But I remember tech being brutal to everyone, not just women. Do we only want to improve it in some ways?

Are we working for equality?

Next I searched the web. I typed “gender studies” into Duckduckgo.com. While not scientific research, the results seem illustrative.

Most of the results were university gender studies departments.

  1. The first, UCLA, showed 16 core faculty members, of which 1 appeared male, going by first names.
  2. The next, UMSL, showed only women staff and faculty.
  3. The next, NCF, listed its courses. The course names referenced women, mothers, and female terms 8 times, male terms only once.
  4. The next, Wheaton, listed courses that mentioned female terms 8 times, male zero.
  5. The next, MIT, listed courses that mentioned female terms 19 times, male 5.
  6. Amazon returned a list of books under gender studies. Its authors included 17 women and 2 men.

If we value diversity and when we lack it in technology and entrepreneurship, we call for changes to the fields, are there calls for changes to invite more men into gender studies?

Would diversity not help in the field? I wonder what percentage of men feel comfortable pursuing a degree or job in gender studies. If the solution in technology and entrepreneurship is to change the fields and men’s behavior, what solutions do people propose for gender studies, if any?

I searched Duckduckgo.com for “men in gender studies” and the top two results were about women, supporting women. The next link put down a young man who tried to enter the field of gender studies at the London School of Economics and reported receiving anti-male discrimination. The link after that one was that young man’s rebuttal, suggesting systemic inequality in the field.

The link after that one was an opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed, Teaching Gender Studies to Straight Men. Its author told how she deliberately tricked students into taking her course unknowingly:

How I got a group of straight male college freshmen to take a course on gender, sex and sexuality is simple: I didn’t tell them the topic before they signed up.

Leaving the ethics of this apparent baiting and switching aside, she concluded by saying about gender and women’s studies courses

These programs were developed in part to bring about social change. But if gender programs want to transform outdated gender norms and reduce sexism, they need to welcome straight men into their classrooms.

After dozens of articles and posts, I seem to have found a voice seeking equality, not just helping one group.

I humbly suggest that if we aim toward equality and diversity specifically, not just helping one group, we’ll increase our chances of achieving it.

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