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Men unsure how to support gender equality, need to step up

New research has revealed men are unsure of how to support gender equality, while the majority of women want men to be more involved in helping to reduce inequities, which increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 LEWIS has revealed findings from its new global research on gender inequality, conducted in support of the global HeForShe movement. The report shows the impact and perceptions of gender inequities during the pandemic across 13 countries. The findings reveal an alarming trend: 98% of women want men to help address gender inequality issues, yet less than half of men indicated being ready to help.

"The problem of widespread gender inequality is no secret, but our latest research is a powerful reminder that the advances the world has made to combat this discrimination can be easily lost if we are not careful," says Yvonne van Bokhoven, executive vice president at LEWIS. 

"We need everyone, men and women, to take steps now to empower women by speaking up, being allies and working to address systemic gender inequalities," she says.

"Acknowledging the problem isn't enough. Women are looking for active support to combat inequality."

The research shows nearly 4 in 10 (39%) women say men should speak out against gender inequality when they witness it. One third (33%) want men to take on more household duties.

According to the research, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women is abundantly clear.

  • More stress: 24% of women reported they were required to take on new duties as part of their job compared to 22% of men. Women also indicated seeing a greater increase in their housework and childcare responsibilities compared to their male counterparts.
  • Fewer benefits: Male employees said they saw more opportunities for financial raises (13%) than did female employees (11%), and over a quarter of women agree they have been overlooked for a promotion because they have children vs 16% of men.
  • Job insecurity: 14% of women surveyed reported being furloughed during the pandemic compared to 11% of men, exacerbating an already significant gap between employment and economic opportunities between male and female counterparts.

The survey also revealed that businesses need to address the stark contrast between how gender inequalities are perceived by men and women respectively:

  • Lack of awareness: Male employees were more than twice as likely as female colleagues to say that gender inequality is no longer an issue facing women.
  • Speaking out: Nearly half of women say they want men to speak out against gender inequality when they witness it and to listen more to female colleagues about the issue, while only 28% of men reported feeling the same.
  • Parenting matters: Parents of daughters are more engaged in the issue than parents of sons. 26% are more likely to discuss gender inequality issues at work and 30% are more likely to discuss gender inequality issues at home.

"You don't need to personally be a victim of discrimination to understand why we need to fight it," says Chris Lewis, CEO of LEWIS. 

"It's clear that men can and should do more to help. Our hope is this research will help shine a light on the challenges women face to make all of us stronger allies in the fight against inequality."

Edward Wageni, global head of HeForShe, adds, "What this research emphasises is the need to take action now more than ever.

"COVID-19 has only exacerbated gender inequalities across the globe and we each have a role to play to ensure that not only do we build back better, but we also build back equal."