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Episode 20: The Man Show

June 10, 2013

Martin Davidson

"There are times I think women get unfair advantages in the workplace...and it’s interesting because there’s an intellectual part of me that understands the research and reality in which there’s bias...and then there’s another part of me that goes, 'Hey, what’s going on here?'"

- Martin Davidson, professor of organizational behavior and leadership, University of Virginia

Mike Otterman

This week, it's The Man Show. I realized it had been a while since I'd featured any men on The Broad Experience, and it was time to change that. So I rounded up three guys who spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between the sexes, particularly when it comes to the workplace: organizational behavior professor Martin Davidson, sociology professor and author Michael Kimmel, and Mike Otterman, who runs the Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) initiative at Catalyst.

Michael Kimmel

We talk about why men won't be honest about women at work when women are in the room, whether women-bashing on the internet really matters, and men's evolving roles as caregivers and full claimants of paternity leave. Weigh in below - do you think it's feasible for more men and women to talk about these things together or does everyone have 'diversity fatigue'? Hit the 'share' button at the bottom of the post to share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. 17 minutes.

Show notes: I mentioned in the show that I'd read some interesting articles lately along the same lines as the things we just discussed.

The Business Week piece 'Alpha Dads' - Men Get Serious about Work-Life Balance' by Sheelah Kolhatkar focuses on a few guys at consultantly Deloitte in Toronto and what they're doing to be less full-on at work, and more present at home.

'Apparently I am Destroying Civilization' is a post by blogger Mama Unabridged (which I saw thanks to a tweet by Anne-Marie Slaughter) who is a female breadwinner with a stay-at-home husband. 

The Good Men Project - "what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century" - takes on all sorts of man-related stuff from a non-GQ persepctive.

MARC - Men Advocating Real Change - is an online community where men can discuss men, women and workplace equality.

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Reader Comments (4)

Really enjoyed this episode and hearing the gentlemen articulate what I personally have been experiencing for some time, in that I must continually watch what I say — not because it's sexist and abrasive, but because it *could be perceived* as sexist or abrasive by a particular woman in a particular moment. Being branded as sexist or misogynistic is just as bad as being branded a racist these days. Somehow, that doesn't feel like progress because there are many men, myself included, who grew up on a level playing field — we're merely asking questions, not asserting that women should be "in their place."

Milton Glaser, the famous graphic designer, got in trouble a few years ago when asked at a panel "why aren't there more famous women graphic designers?" His answer was essentially "biology." He elaborated in saying that the age for child-rearing (late 20s and early 30s) is also the most critical point in one's career, and up until very recently, no one could have both at the same time. I actually agree with this sentiment, but if I said it I would, as Glaser was, be branded as old-fashioned, pig-headed, etc. etc. It seems that most of the answers to questions of women in the workplace come down to two answers: 1.) men have been historical very stubborn, and 2.) women are the only ones with a uterus. I'm not sure how we can change either of these.

There's also an interesting sub-topic which I think was overlooked in the show, and that is about how younger men are treated in today's workplace. We are the ones who grew up with modern working moms, who had women teachers, classmates, principals, and have no problems working with women bosses or mentors. But as modern as we are, we must still answer for the bad behaviour of our predecessors. Isn't it just as bad to judge today's young (and single) men as tyrants, as it would be to judge their women counterparts as incapable or emotionally unstable?

I don't have all the answers, but I enjoy participating in the debate. Onwards and upwards.

Loved the show. Many of the things you are "looking" at are on my radar too. I'm meeting with Leah Eichler next week. We are both members of Verity.

Thank you both for your comments. Prescott, I hear you on your point about young men, although that said, I've heard some pretty bad stories about guys in their 20s who I would have assumed were more enlightened, which forced me to take a step back and re-assess my assumption that educated Gen Y men are all fans of equality. I disagree that being sexist is 'as bad as being racist" - I think Michael Kimmel quite convincingly pointed out that sexism isn't as looked down upon as racism or anti-semitism (he used that 'iron my shirt' example that was waved about at a Hillary Clinton rally in 2008). But there is a lot of room for more understanding about all this stuff and for the opportunity to talk about it openly, which is what we did on the show. Hats off to Martin Davidson for not sticking to some kind of script but admitting he sometimes feels women get a better deal just because they're women.

I meant to say 'as bad as being branded a racist'. Fast typing messes me up again. And thanks again for posting such a thoughtful response to the show.

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