Gender inequality: a male perspective
In our quest to end gender inequality against women, have we completely ignored the male side of the spectrum? If this is true, in what ways are men affected by gender inequality? Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. Male gender inequality exists in several areas including education, the court of law and even in healthcare.
Discrimination against boys in education is common and heavily played down, and usually presents as discipline and grading biases against boys. An article in the February 2013 issue of The New York Times cited a study from the Journal of Human Resources that analysed 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subjects received lower proficiency scores — that is the attitude to learning and quantitative grades — than their test scores would have predicted.
The study’s researchers attributed this discrepancy to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, and the ability to sit still and work independently. These are all skills girls tend to develop earlier than boys. This study revealed that teachers rated boys less proficient even when they did just as well as the girls on tests.
Christopher M. Cornwell, an economist at the University of Georgia, went on to state: “If grade disparity emerges this early on, it’s not surprising that by the time these children are ready to go to college, girls will be in a better position.”
Additionally, sociologist Jayanti Owens, a professor at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, said quote: “When I compared four and five-year-old boys and girls who had the same levels of behaviour problems, including difficulty sustaining attention, regulating emotions, delaying gratification, and forming positive relationships with teachers and peers, I found that boys were less likely to learn and more likely to be held back in school. One of the big things that jumped out in the study was the fact that the same behaviour problems in boys and girls were penalised a lot more in boys than girls.”
As a student, I, too, have witnessed these discrepancies in our beloved school, where boys are readily reprimanded for speaking out of turn while talkative girls are usually excused. All this evidence further supports my point that the disciplinary and result sector are biased.
In the judicial system, discrimination against males is also evident in the court system. A 2012 article by University of Michigan law professor Sonja Starr stated, “men receive 63 per cent longer sentences on average than women do,” and “women are twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted”. This suggests that women receive more lenient treatment than men in court. This gender bias is also seen in custody battles involving children. In 2003, the US Census Bureau noted men lost custody of their children in 84 per cent of divorces; in 2020, that number rose to 90 per cent, showing the bias is increasing. Even when men were granted custody, the Separated Parenting Access and Resource Centre documented that only 29.9 per cent of them received child support, as opposed to the 69.1 per cent of women who receive child support. This means males are expected to pay child support, while the majority of women are not — clearly exposing gender inequality.
Healthcare is a fundamental human right; this is unfortunately a privilege in poorer nations, and is also an area in which males are now being unequally treated. The American Cancer Association on its website updated this year that there is more money spent on breast cancer than lung cancer and prostate cancer combined, even though lung cancer alone has three to four times more fatalities than breast cancer. A man’s chance of getting cancer is 40 per cent, with 20 per cent of those men likely to die — as opposed to 38 per cent of women with 16.9 per cent of that number likely to die from cancer. Yet there is vastly more money spent on cancer for females; this is lethal discrimination. There are triple the amount of gender-specific health services for women than men. This blatantly demonstrates that a female’s health is more valued than a male’s.
In an effort to correct the years of discrimination against females, have we created another problem by degrading males? One gender does not have to be marginalised at the expense of the other for there to be equity. Females and males must receive the test scores and discipline that they deserve, must be treated equally in court, and must have custody of a child granted to the parent who is most fit regardless of gender. Additionally, healthcare research and services are to be distributed equally.
I am not suggesting females’ rights are not important or that females should be marginalised. I am merely suggesting that for there to be true gender equality, the needs of males need to be equally as important.
• Jordan Williams is an eighth-grade student at Saltus Grammar School who submitted this edited work as part of a school assignment
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