A online study of 818 men was published recently, entitled: The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the Modern American Man.  The survey reports to be representative of the adult male population and explores potentially controversial and sensitive topics such as attitudes about gender and sex. Interestingly some answers are very supportive of female advancement, while others seem to point out the need for increased gender equality.

Generational Differences: Now vs. Then

For example, 45% of men said it was harder to be a man now than in his father’s generation. Why?

… men are most likely to say this is due to women attaining a stronger position in the workplace, a stronger position financially, and greater gender equality. These men also cite negative assumptions about men, a more competitive job market, greater household responsibilities for men, and greater expectations for men in society today. The following are a number of verbatim responses from survey respondents:

“In my dad’s day, women stayed home and the men worked. Now, both men and women work in the same area as men do, so it’s hard for us to be men.”

“With the blending of the gender roles and the fact that society is not dependent upon physical labor as much as it used to be, the traditional roles that men play have been dismissed.”

“If you stand up as a man, it is taken as putting females down. No more ‘Man of the House.’”

“Each generation has its challenges. In the past, it was men conforming to rigid role expectations. In our generation, a man has more challenges finding his own way.”

Interestingly, men who say it is easier to live in this generation (20%) cite the same reasons of gender and social changes.

Gender roles in the workplace

Wonderfully, most of the men expressed comfort with the empowerment of women in the workplace. But while feeling comfortable and able to work around female bosses…

56% of men agree that, generally speaking, men are more concerned about making good impressions and earning the respect of other men than earning the respect of women.

… which to me indicates that the opinion of a women is not as important as that of a man.

Men are also very comfortable with their partner working outside the home and most were at least “somewhat” comfortable working for a woman.  However, less than half were at least “somewhat” comfortable staying home to take care of the children.  Thus, if women are working outside the home more often, who is expected to bear the responsibility for raising the children?  A possible answer:

34% say that they take on a greater share of the household responsibilities than their wife or female partner does.
And among those who have children at home, 24% say that they take on a greater share of parenting responsibilities than their wife or female partner does.

Unfortunately, the survey did not ask about relationships where men and women had equal division of labor.  Additionally, a vast majority of men reported feeling comfortable with a female president of the United States

Admirable qualities in a wife vs. a daughter
As a great positive, intelligence was rated highly as desirable qualities in both a wife and daughter. Men also hoped for an attractive wife while an attractive daughter was not as highly prized.  However, the men reported hoping for independence in a daughter far more often than having independence in their partner.  A similar pattern appeared for the quality of strength.  Wonderfully, homemaker and deferential were far at the bottom of the list for both wife and daughter.

The 21st Century Individual

This short study provides some very interesting information.  Of course not all studies are representative of all populations and individuals, but they can point out overall trends.  In my opinion, the women’s movement has made great advances, but still has areas of work.  Superbly, men are supportive of women in the workplace and even as the president of the United States.  However, while men are supportive of their spouses working outside the home, there is less of an equal redistribution of household labor.  This may indicate that women are becoming responsible both for their job and the household.  Additionally, independence and strength were not valuable in a spouse as other qualities such as attractiveness and sweetness.  Finally, women are seen as having a negative overall impact on the career success of men and their opinion is not as valuable as that of a man’s. Thus while men are much more supportive of female professional empowerment, continued underlying biases may limit the true potential of the 21st Century Woman.

To read more about the study’s conclusions and access the survey and data: click here.