My doctoral research focused on men's support for gender equality, specifically I answered the questions how men can support gender equality, and what might prevent them from doing so.
I argued that men's support for gender equality is essential for at least three reasons. First, minority groups' (women) causes have been shown to benefit from support of members of the majority group (men). Second, a large part of all societal power and decision-making positions are still held by men - to make a change we need to get those on board who affect gender equality every day through their decisions. And third, at this point men do not engage in an equal proportion of household chores and childcare. Only when men take over 50% of these tasks at home can women excel to their full potential in the workplace.
In the first part of my PhD I investigated how men can support gender equality. I demonstrated that men's support for gender equality can be differentiated between two types of support: public and domestic support for gender equality. Public support comprises actions that address gender inequality in public places, for instance in the workplace. Examples include encouraging female colleagues to take on leadership positions, or speaking up when witnessing gender inequality. Domestic support describes the engagement in nontraditional gender roles within a man's own home environment. Examples include sharing housework and childcare equally with one's female partner. Together with my supervisors, I developed the Support for Gender Equality among Men Scale (SGEMS) which measures each type of support (see publication below).
In the second part of my PhD, I investigated why men might or might not support gender equality domestically. I linked domestic support for gender equality to the theory of precarious manhood. According to this theory, men experience a constant pressure to publicly prove their manhood as it is a state that is "difficult to achieve and tenuous to hold". Men hold their manhood status by avoiding all that is feminine, especially in front of their male peers. In line, we found evidence that men who score high on precarious manhood beliefs report decreased levels of domestic support for gender equality in front of an audience of male peers, compared to anonymously. This might be problematic as it slows down the journey towards gender equality by sustaining gender roles. However, we also found that men scoring low in precarious manhood beliefs report increased levels of domestic support for gender equality in front of an audience of male peers, compared to anonymously. These men might potentially be the driving force to changing norms around men's engagement in domestic support for gender equality.