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Are gender roles keeping men from speaking out against sexism?

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The fight to eliminate sexism in the workplace is a cause that has historically been championed by women. Recently, more working men have joined the chorus of voices declaring, "enough is enough."

For many of these men, their support for women has not been well received by other males. The reason for this reaction may stem from the very strict gender roles that our society is forced to conform to. At least, that is the suggestion from a recent study.

In the recent article, the author cites a study entitled, "Be an advocate for others, unless you are a man: Backlash against gender-atypical male job candidates." As you can surmise from the study's title, the authors take a closer look at how gender stereotypes discourage men from showing empathy for their female coworkers who are victims of sexist remarks and actions.

The Weight Of Gender Roles

It is common knowledge that men -- white men in particular -- hold most of the nation's leadership positions. Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, male leaders have been called on to use their power to put an end to workplace sexism.

Regardless of their response to these calls to action, the study finds that gender roles were significant factors in both determining whether or not to speak out about sexism, and, if they did speak out, how their words were received by fellow men.

The stereotype for men is that they "...show ambition at work and focus most of their energy on promoting themselves and their own accomplishments." The female stereotype is that women are concerned more with the welfare of others.

The study found that men who acted atypical for their gender were viewed unfavorably by other men to the point where backlash was experienced. The research in this study seems to support the notion that sexism cannot be fought without first examining the rigid gender stereotypes that are likely contributing to the problem. If men are punished for speaking out about sexism, how can we expect change?

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