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Do men need quotas and a rights movement?
Photo: DPA

Do men need quotas and a rights movement?

Published: 25 Oct 2012 10:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Oct 2012 10:57 GMT+02:00

Family Minister Kristina Schröder hosted an international conference on men’s issues this week, to discuss how to help men get jobs in careers traditionally dominated by women. Do we need a men's rights movement? Have your say

As Germany fails to close the gender gap in the workplace, and a debate continues about whether quotas should be introduced to improve the mix of people working at the top levels of industry in the country, the figures generally show men way ahead of women.

Yet Schröder hosted a conference in Berlin on Wednesday to talk about what could be done to help men. She told how the share of kindergarten teachers who are male in Germany had risen from 2.4 to 2.9 percent. Yet she was put to shame by the 10 percent of Norwegian kindergarten teachers who are men.

Men are stuck in clichéd roles just as women are, she said – and pointed to the “Boys’ Day” she has set up to encourage boys to go and spend a day in a traditionally female work place.

Yet just as she is against mandatory quotas for women in the workplace, Schröder is against quotas for men – instead she intends to rely on encouragement, a position which was criticised at the conference. Her Austrian counterpart Rudolf Hundstorfer called for quotas, which he said would work to kick off real change.

Is it time men received more consideration in gender policies? As eating disorders increase among boys and men, are they also subject to more pressure to look a particular way – and be a certain way? Are men becoming victims too?

Are they being forgotten and disadvantaged by the efforts made to level the playing field for women? Is it a zero-sum calculation – does helping one gender necessarily mean making things more difficult for the other, or can changes be made that can benefit everyone?

Registered users of The Local may add their comments in the field below. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here – it’s free and only takes a moment.

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Your comments about this article

12:31 October 25, 2012 by yllusion
It is wrong to expect that in every type of job there should be 50/50 distribution of men and women. We have to ask ourselves first how many men and how many women are applying for a cartain job. Look at the schools and universities and see how certain fields are more populated by women (like human sciences) while certain fields are more populated by men (like engineering). We can't say that there is inequality there, can we? Ask many women and many of them will tell you that they prefer humanities, languages, etc. than math or physics. Many men will tell you the opposite. The result of the natural preferences reflect in the schools and universities and this reflects later in the jobs. We have to understand and recognise that we, men and women, have different qualities, we have to recognise that although we are equal as human beings, deserving the same level of respect, recognition and opportunities, we are different by nature. We think differently, we respond differently, we organise ourselves differently because we have different priorities in life, we express ourselves differently. We have to recognise that each gender has its function in nature, and consequently in our society. We are complementary opposite polarities of one single species, both equally important to each other and to the whole. We should praise respect and equality of oportunities above all, but we should also respect the different qualities of men and women. Why are we attempting to change the natural course of things? Our job is simply to prevent injustices and to guarantee that each individual has the oportunity to achieve his/her maximum in life according to his/her natural talents and pre-dispositions. Men and women should stop trying to occupy each other's place, they should stop with the prejudice and games of pride. No one is better or worse, we're simply different and equally important. We achieve balance when everybody perform its role in the natural course of life. The example is in nature.
13:32 October 25, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Turnabout is fair play.
14:45 October 25, 2012 by Chris1479
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:40 October 25, 2012 by ghostwind
@Chris1479: The Troll-fu is strong in you... Well played!
16:46 October 25, 2012 by raandy
"Is it time men received more consideration in gender policies?"

How has society here in Germany survived this long with out confronting this issue?

We need to set up special committees in the work place to address this major problem..

just kidding :-)
20:55 October 25, 2012 by catjones
@ yllusion...I got everything up to the crazy part.
22:02 October 25, 2012 by ovalle3.14
We don't need quotas. Our inferiority complexes lie elsewhere.
22:46 October 25, 2012 by Peter-Andrew: Nolan(c)
I am an auslander. But the best comment I have heard about feminism in Germany from a german man in a bar was this.

"Women want to be like men? For two generations most german men were slaughtered in wars. They are welcome to it."

Women are actually quite a bit nicer in Germany than they are in western countries. I do not call germany "western" as living in Germany is like living on a different planet compared to Australia, UK, Ireland, USA...all countries I have lived in for some time.
03:24 October 26, 2012 by Eric1
No, we need all to have equal opportunity for all. It's time to stop the hate, bigotry, racism, against heterosexual white males.
12:00 October 26, 2012 by yllusion
@catjones

What part do you consider crazy?
16:35 October 26, 2012 by Timec
@Peter-Andrew -

I've always loved the "feminist women just wish they were men" bit, because it instantly reveals the person who says it as an ignoramus who actually knows very little or nothing about feminism.

You do realize that there are quite a few different schools of feminism, each of which has its own beliefs and goals - right? Yes, there are some extreme ones who think that men are worthless or that women and men are the same in every way (except physically) - but they're actually a small minority in the larger feminist community.

You also realize that there are male feminists, right?

My advice: Actually read some feminist writings. You may be surprised by a few things.

Hint: A vast majority of feminist women do NOT wish they were men.
16:53 October 26, 2012 by mitanni
"For two generations most german men were slaughtered in wars. They are welcome to it."

What an offensive thing to say given German history. German men "weren't slaughtered" passively. All Germans (men and women) made a choice to fight vicious and cruel wars of aggression against the rest of Europe.

And modern German attitudes towards the military are really no more mature: Germany's supposed pacifism masks a deep guilt over German history and shifting blame for their political choices to the military. And Germans also have found "pacifism" a convenient excuse to let other people do their military dirty work.
21:05 October 26, 2012 by ziro
This is a really tough issue to solve.

Is it unfair that more men than women hold influential positions? Yes

Is it unfair to deny a better candidate the job he wants because he's a man? Yes

The fact is that the job should go to the best person for it, regardless of sex. The balance as it is simply indicates that of the applicants, the majority were presumably men. Of course the nub of the issue is, 'did they get their job because they were the best for it, or because the person hiring didn't want to give it to a woman?' I'd like to think that in the 21st century that second scenario was incredibly unlikely, but I accept it perhaps isn't as unlikely as it should be.

Furthermore, it's important to consider if a particular job is generally attractive to a gender. We all know of jobs dominated by men and ones dominated by women and it's ok, even in an age of equality, to recognize that the genders are different in ways that go beyond their bodies. Of course, these tendencies don't apply to everyone but there are undeniable trends.. whether that's nature or nuture is a long debate too.

On balance, I can only guess that the way forward should perhaps be to work to change discriminatory attitudes, without shoehorning people into positions on anything other than merit to simply balance the gender books.
14:32 October 27, 2012 by rosebudnv
thank you Ziro. I agree completely. (from Canada)
11:38 October 29, 2012 by yllusion
@Ziro

"Is it unfair that more men than women hold influential positions? Yes"

Why do you say that when all your other arguments, which I already mentioned in the first comment, condemn such idea? It is not unfair to have more men holding influential positions when there are many more man working to reach such positions than women.

What we are discussing here is also being discussed elsewhere:

http://www.thelocal.de/national/20121024-45755.html
14:36 October 29, 2012 by Raydoggy
Men, men, men, that's all we ever hear about,mmen's issues, and Masculism, 40 years of poor me whinging men and their Masculist issues like 93% of workplace deaths and injuries, 75% of suicides, much worse health than women and much less gender specific funding, 99.999% of war casualties, higher rates of drug, alcohol and gambling addiction, 85% of prison inmates, they only send 25% of the luxury dollar.

But who cares, they are only a bunch of male chauvinist pigs, what do their concerns matter, when some women are not getting promotions in corporations to buy more designer dresses and shoes, with their 75% of luxury dollar at their disposal.

OK, enough tongue in cheek, here's the reality, anyone who says they are for equality, and then calls themselves a feminist or a masculist is a moron, because if you were really for equality, you would call yourself an equalist. Misandry is alive and well in the western world, always has been. Feminist sexist hatred of men and their crazy gender war, is really a smokescreen for the real wars, especially the class war. Come in suckers.
11:22 October 30, 2012 by delvek
About time they started providing assistance to men. What a crock that it has taken this long to start the discussion.
15:04 November 3, 2012 by coatswg
So what the heck does the picture of dancing muscular men have to do with the article? Or was it picked just to jab at men? Its disingenuous discussions like this article that relegate women's concerns to the silly.
19:24 November 3, 2012 by daren giveen
Only politicians needs "rights movement" . For themselves and their own career ! But PEOPLE don't need it, don't mismatch this point.
08:07 November 6, 2012 by delvek
Men, white men, need it because every other group has something to lift them up. White men are the most isolated, abused and demonized demographic on the globe.

Its all brewing ....
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