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This is what German men really think about gender equality

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This is what German men really think about gender equality
File photo: DPA.
16:30 CEST+02:00
The German Family Affairs Ministry on Wednesday released a report on "male perspectives" of gender equality. Here are some things the report reveals.

The report released on Wednesday took an in-depth look at how men's attitudes towards the family and gender equality have changed over the past decade.

Researchers compared the answers of more than 1,500 men surveyed in 2007 to those of men in 2015. Here are some of the more interesting findings.

One-fifth say it’s not good for both spouses to work

At 82 percent of respondents, the vast majority of men said that they thought it was good for a relationship when both people involved are gainfully employed. This was also an 11 percent increase compared to 2007 when 71 percent of men said the same.

Still, that means that about one in five men (18 percent) said it was fundamentally not good for both partners to be working.

But the Ministry still saw the report as positive for equality.

“The majority of men believe that both people in a partnership should be working - this proportion has significantly increased in the last ten years,” noted Family Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig in a statement.

“Above all, younger men don’t find the model of being the breadwinner attractive anymore. Most couples today want to have an equal partnership on the same level. And ever more men believe that fathers should reduce their professional lives when the kids are little.”

Fewer men are looking for a “traditional” marriage

The report also noted a decline in the number of men who said they wanted a “traditional” relationship: one where the husband is the breadwinner and the housewife takes care of the kids and household matters. Seventeen percent in 2007 said this was their ideal, compared to ten percent in 2015.

Meanwhile, the amount of men who said they wanted to be in an “equal” relationship - where both partners work, and both share responsibility for the children and chores - increased from 33 percent in 2007, to 42 percent in 2015. For most of those polled under 30, this was the preferred relationship structure.

German men have very different expectations for mothers and fathers

Photo: DPA.

German men were more than twice as likely to say that women should sacrifice their professional lives when they start a family, compared to men.

In 2015, 42 percent of men said that fathers should work less when their children are young, compared to 32 percent in 2007. And separately, one-third of men in 2015 - compared to one-fifth in 2007 - said brand-new fathers should take a break from work to stay home when their babies are first born.

In comparison, nearly all men (93 percent) agreed that mothers should stay home when their babies are first born, and 88 percent said women should work less when their kids are still little.

About half of German men say maintaining a work-life balance is hard

The Family Ministry pointed out that it’s not just women who are concerned with balancing family time with job time: 49 percent of employed men said they felt like there were high hurdles to jump in order to maintain this balance.

The proportion of men who are interested in gender equality hasn’t changed much

One thing that hasn’t seen dramatic increases or decreases was men’s interest in the subject of equality. In 2007, 53 percent expressed an interest compared to 55 percent in 2015.

The report did note that men within the age range where important relationship decisions like marriage are generally made - ages 30 to 38 - showed a much greater interest in equality at 68 percent.

Most men don’t think Germany has reached gender equality

Sixteen percent of men polled said that gender equality has definitely already been achieved in their country. The remaining 84 percent said there were still deficiencies, but disagreed on the extent.

This is a problem, according to most men, as 79 percent said they believe equality is important for a cohesive society.

About half of German men say ‘it’s our turn’

German men were also asked whether they agreed with this statement: “Women have now been promoted enough, now it’s men’s turn.” Nearly half (47 percent) said they more or less agreed with this, while the rest did not.

Women surveyed separately saw things much differently. Just 18 percent of women said it was now time for men to get more attention when it comes to gender equality.

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