Gender equality: What's in it for men?

Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:46am EDT
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By Lisa Anderson

UNITED NATIONS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Convincing men that they are as likely as women to benefit from gender equality is the strongest argument to get them involved in reaching that goal, experts said at the United Nations on Wednesday.

Accepting equality and rejecting gender stereotypes would help end discrimination against men seeking jobs typically done by women, increase their participation in family life, and ease the economic burden of supporting their families as more women enter the workforce, they said.

"It has become clear that if we continue to live in a society where gender inequality exists, we all lose," Martina Vuk, Slovenia's minister for social affairs and equal opportunities, said on day three of the U.N. 59th Commission on the Status of Women.

Gender segregation in the labor market remains a problem for both men and women, said panellists from several countries.

Iceland, for example, has Europe's highest percentage of women in the workforce, at 71 percent according to the World Bank, yet also one of the most segregated labor markets, said Eyglo Hardardottir, the country's minister for social affairs.

"It remains harder for a man to be accepted as a kindergarten teacher than a woman to be accepted as an engineer," she said.

In Austria, less than 2 percent of kindergarten teachers are men, said Alexander Wrabetz, director general of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF).

In programming around International Women's Day earlier this month, ORF spotlighted professions with unequal gender representation, Wrabetz said.   Continued...