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GALANG to host policy audits for inclusive development

With the support of the Institute of Development Studies and Mama Cash Fund for Women, GALANG will present on May 9 policy audits examining programs and laws intended to alleviate poverty in five target countries: the Philippines, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. Specifically, the aim of the audits is to quantify the effects of policies on sexual minorities, in order to establish methods that better address the needs of LGBT people in these communities.

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In concert with policy developers and human rights activists from around the world, and with the support of the Institute of Development Studies and Mama Cash Fund for Women, GALANG has announced that it will present on May 9 policy audits examining programs and laws intended to alleviate poverty in five target countries: the Philippines, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. Specifically, the aim of the audits is to quantify the effects of such policies on sexual minorities, in order to establish methods that better address the needs of LGBT people in these communities.

The program is to be attended by a range of influential policy makers and activists, including Philippine Congress members responsible for co-authoring Anti-Discrimination Bills. The event will kick off with a welcome address by Philippine Congressman Ibarra M. Gutierrez III, vice chair of the Committee on Human Rights. Congresswoman Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo is to deliver keynote remarks.

GALANG founding director, Anne Lim, will present the Philippine policy audit, with a heavy focus on Quezon City, which Vice Mayor Ma. Josefina G. Belmonte hopes will become the standard-bearer for equality in the Philippines. Once the seat of Philippine government, Quezon City is the largest and most densely populated city in the country, putting it in a uniquely influential position for the advancement of progressive policy.

The event’s policy reports will touch on many facets of poverty alleviation efforts, including urbanization, kinship, education, and disability, promising broadly applicable policy recommendations that will illuminate the way forward for LGBT inclusivity at the local, national, and international levels.

GALANG Philippines is a lesbian-led feminist human rights organization that works with urban poor lesbian, bisexual, and trans (LBT) people who struggle with the multiple oppressions of class, poverty, sex, gender identity/expression, and sexual orientation.

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Men scoring higher on ‘man box’ scale are prone to violence, mental illness

Men who harbor more harmful attitudes about masculinity — including beliefs about aggression and homophobia — also tend toward bullying, sexual harassment, depression and suicidal thoughts.

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Researchers at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Promundo-US found that men who harbor more harmful attitudes about masculinity – including beliefs about aggression and homophobia – also tend toward bullying, sexual harassment, depression and suicidal thoughts.

The study, published today in Preventive Medicine, is based on the “Man Box” Scale developed by Promundo-US, the US member of a global consortium dedicated to promoting gender equality and ending violence, as a way to measure harmful norms and stereotypes about masculinity. The 15-item scale encompasses themes such as self-sufficiency, acting tough, physical attractiveness, rigid masculine gender roles, hypersexuality, and control.

“While there has been a lot of discussion around harmful masculinities in the media and in the research community, no one has agreed on a standardized way to measure the concept,” explains Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

The idea of the Man Box originated in the 1980s. Paul Kivel and his colleagues at the Oakland Men’s Project developed the “Act Like a Man Box” activity as a way to discuss how society tells men they ought to be. Since then, activist Tony Porter helped popularize the term in a TEDWomen Talk and his book “Breaking Out of the ‘Man Box’: The Next Generation of Manhood.”

Recently, the issue of harmful masculinities received widespread attention in response to the 2018 American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, which presented a series of steps health care practitioners should take to improve the psychological care of boys and men.

The APA was reacting to growing evidence showing that men who strongly align with more harmful masculine gender norms have poorer health outcomes, such as depression and suicidal ideation. In addition, these men perpetrate violence against others at much higher rates. Research shows that boys and men, just like girls and women, are affected by societal norms, and those norms can have real consequences.

Using 2016 data from more than 3,600 men ages 18-30 across three countries, this study found that higher Man Box Scale scores were associated with up to five times higher rates of verbal, online or physical bullying, as well as sexual harassment. Men with higher scores also were about twice as likely to experience depression or suicidal ideation.

Men who harbor more harmful attitudes about masculinity – including beliefs about aggression and homophobia – also tend toward bullying, sexual harassment, depression and suicidal thoughts.

“These findings highlight how detrimental harmful masculinities can be to the people who endorse them, as well as their peers, families and communities at large,” said lead author Amber Hill, Ph.D., fourth-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “It’s important to remember that individuals of all genders are influenced and impacted by the heteronormative society that we live in.”

To help clinicians more efficiently monitor their male patients’ attitudes, the researchers developed a shorter version of the survey including only the five items that had the strongest associations with violence and poor mental health:

  1. A man shouldn’t have to do household chores.
  2. Men should use violence to get respect if necessary.
  3. A real man should have as many sexual partners as he can.
  4. A man who talks a lot about his worries, fears and problems shouldn’t really get respect.
  5. A gay guy is not a “real man.”

“We have found a way to measure the concept of the ‘Man Box,’ which allows us to clearly see that when men embrace stereotypical ideas about manhood, they’re also more likely to harm the well-being of others, as well as impact their own health in adverse ways,” said Gary Barker, Ph.D., president and C.E.O. of Promundo-US. “As health care providers, researchers and public health workers, we now have a valid tool in our pockets to help us measure progress toward changing harmful stereotypes and advancing both gender equality and healthier versions of masculinity.”

Additional authors on the study include Galen Switzer, Ph.D., Lan Yu, Ph.D., of the Pitt School of Medicine; Brian Heilman, M.A., Ruti Levtov, Ph.D., and Kristina Vlahovicova, M.S., of Promundo-US; Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Robert W.S. Coulter, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health.

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Academic achievement is influenced by how pupils ‘do’ gender at school

Pupils’ achievements at school are often shaped by the way that they ‘act out’ specific gender roles, according to a new study which warns against over-generalising the gender gap in education.

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Pupils’ achievements at school are often shaped by the way that they ‘act out’ specific gender roles, according to a new study which warns against over-generalising the gender gap in education.

The study, by researchers at the University of Cambridge, suggests that young people’s attainment is linked to their ideas about what it means to be male or female. Those who defy traditional gender stereotypes appear to do better in the classroom.

Annual GCSE results in the UK, in common with many western countries, typically show that boys lag behind girls academically, but the research argues that this broad pattern masks a more nuanced picture. In particular, the researchers warn that a large sub-group of girls, who conform fairly rigidly to some traditional ‘feminine’ norms, could be academically at-risk. They point out that these girls are often ‘invisible’ in broad surveys of attainment by gender that show girls performing well as a group.

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The researchers examined the English and Maths results of almost 600 GCSE candidates at four schools in England. On average, the girls did significantly better in English, while boys were slightly better at Maths. Girls outperformed boys overall.

But the study then went a step further, analysing sub-groups of boys and girls according to how they expressed their gender identity. This revealed that around half of the girls displayed ‘maladaptive patterns of motivation, engagement and achievement’. By contrast, around two-thirds of boys were motivated, engaged and did well in exams. The pupils’ academic performance corresponded closely to their sense of gender.

Young people’s attainment is linked to their ideas about what it means to be male or female. Those who defy traditional gender stereotypes appear to do better in the classroom.

Dr Junlin Yu, a researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, said: “There has been a lot of justifiable concern about low attainment among boys, but we really need to move on from looking at averages, and ask which specific groups of boys and girls are falling behind. These findings suggest that part of the answer is linked to how pupils ‘do’ gender at school.”

The study asked pupils to complete questionnaires which measured their motivation and engagement, and also examined how far they conformed to certain gender ‘norms’.

These norms were drawn from two widely-used scales that identify the characteristics which people in western countries consider ‘typically’ masculine or feminine. The supposedly ‘masculine’ traits were emotional control, competitiveness, aggression, self-reliance, and risk-taking. The ‘feminine’ traits were thinness, an interest in appearance, concern with relationships, and an inclination towards domesticity.

In reality, most people exhibit a combination of masculine and feminine traits and the researchers found that pupils typically belonged to one of seven gender profiles that blended these characteristics. They classified these as:

  • ‘Resister boys’ (69% of boys): typically resist traditional ideas about masculinity.
  • ‘Cool guys’ (21%): competitive risk-takers, but concerned with appearance and romantic success.
  • ‘Tough guys’ (10%): have an emotionally ‘hard’ image, self-reliant.
  • ‘Relational girls’ (32% of girls): shun appearance norms, comfortable connecting with others emotionally.
  • ‘Modern girls’ (49%): concerned with appearance, but also self-reliant and emotionally distant.
  • ‘Tomboys’ (12%): uninterested in feminine qualities, often regarded as ‘one of the lads.’
  • ‘Wild girls’ (7%): embrace masculine behaviours, but also display an exaggeratedly ‘feminine’ appearance.

These profiles were then cross-referred with the pupils’ GCSE results.

On average, the sample group performed as international trends predict. Girls had an average grade of 6.0 (out of 9) in English, compared with the boys’ average of 5.3. In Maths boys averaged 5.9; slightly higher than the girls’ 5.5.

But the researchers also found strong correlations between the specific gender profiles and patterns of engagement, motivation, and attainment. The two groups who resisted conventional gender norms – resister boys and relational girls – were found to be ‘better academically adjusted’ and typically did well in exams. The lowest overall performers were the ‘cool guys’ and ‘tough guys’.

This significantly affected the average patterns of attainment by gender. In English, for example, relational girls far outperformed all other pupils in the cohort (averaging 6.3), almost single-handedly raising the girls’ average.

Teachers and parents can help by encouraging pupils to feel that they won’t be ridiculed or marginalized if they don’t conform to traditional gender roles. The findings certainly suggest that resistance to stereotypes is fast becoming less the exception, and more the rule.

The ‘modern’ and ‘wild’ girls typically had more mediocre GCSE results. More worryingly, these groups also displayed signs of low engagement and motivation: they gave up easily when faced with difficult tasks, and generally put less effort into their work. Collectively, these girls represented 56% of the total, but their underachievement was partially obscured by the high attainment average for girls.

The study suggests that one reason for the close correspondence between gender profile and academic achievement is that adolescents tend to express strong and inflexible ideas about gender, which influences their attitude towards school. For example, ‘cool guys’, who prize risk-taking and winning, consistently admitted to not trying hard at school – probably because doing so maintained the illusion that they would succeed if they put in more effort.

Attitudes towards gender probably also influence pupils’ engagement with certain subjects. Previous studies have, for example, shown that Maths is often perceived as ‘male’. Tellingly, within the sample, tomboys – girls who rejected ‘feminine’ traits – earned higher grades than the other girls in Maths.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski from Unsplash.com

The study’s main recommendation is that efforts to close the gender gap in attainment need to focus less on ‘girls versus boys’ and more on these nuanced profiles. However, the researchers also suggest that schools could support pupils by encouraging them to think beyond traditional gender stereotypes.

“Among boys in particular, we found that those who resist gender norms were in the majority, but at school it often doesn’t feel that way,” Yu said. “Teachers and parents can help by encouraging pupils to feel that they won’t be ridiculed or marginalized if they don’t conform to traditional gender roles. Our findings certainly suggest that resistance to stereotypes is fast becoming less the exception, and more the rule.”

The research appears in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

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Health & Wellness

Experiences of loneliness may differ by age

Some factors were found to be associated with loneliness across all age groups. These included living alone, frequency of neighbour contact, psychological distress, and psychological and emotional wellbeing. The strongest association with loneliness was found for those who felt excluded from society.

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Loneliness in adult life is experienced differently depending on age, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. The research concludes that there can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to reducing loneliness, as factors associated with it, such as contact with friends and family, perceived health or employment, may differ across the phases of the adult life span.

Thanée Franssen, the corresponding author, said: “The majority of studies focusing on loneliness have thus far been performed among specific age groups, such as the elderly or teenagers, or individuals with specific health conditions. To our knowledge, none of these studied the factors associated with loneliness among adults and how these change as people age.”

A team of researchers at Maastricht University and in the Public Health Service South-Limburg in the Netherlands used data collected in the Netherlands from September to December 2016 to examine associations between demographic, social and health-related factors and loneliness in 6,143 young (19-34 years), 8,418 early middle-aged (35-49 years) and 11,758 late middle-aged adults (50-65 years).

Overall, 10,309 (44.3%) individuals reported experiencing loneliness. Among young adults, 2,042 (39.7%) individuals reported feelings of loneliness, compared to 3,108 (43.3%) early-middle aged adults, and 5,159 late middle-aged adults (48.2%).

Some factors were found to be associated with loneliness across all age groups. These included living alone, frequency of neighbour contact, psychological distress, and psychological and emotional wellbeing. The strongest association with loneliness was found for those who felt excluded from society.

Some factors associated with loneliness were found to be present in specific age groups only. Young adults showed the strongest association between contact frequency with friends and loneliness. Educational level was associated with loneliness among young adults only, while an association between employment status and loneliness was found solely among early middle-aged adults. Frequency of family contact was associated with loneliness only among early and late middle-aged adults. For late middle-aged adults only, perceived health was associated with loneliness.

The authors suggest that people may feel lonely if what is the norm for their age group, such as completing school, being employed, having a partner or having children, deviates from their actual situation. As different factors are perceived to be the norm for different age groups, this may explain some of the difference in factors associated with loneliness between age groups.

Thanée Franssen said: “The identification of the factors associated with loneliness is necessary to be able to develop and target appropriate interventions. Unfortunately, most of the current interventions seem to be limited in their effect. A possible reason for this may be that most interventions for adults are universal. Results of this study showed that interventions should be developed for specific age groups.”

The authors caution that some factors that may affect people’s perception of loneliness, such as relationship quality, were not included in the current study, as they were not part of the original data collection. Due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, it was not possible to establish cause and effect.

Thanée Franssen said: “Our results also suggest that during the current COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of loneliness among adults may be impacted in different ways according to the important factors of their life phase. For example, young adults are not able to interact with their friends or classmates face to face anymore. This may need to be taken into account when considering the impact on loneliness of the current pandemic.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Jobs for the boys: How children give voice to gender stereotyped job roles

The research found that for stereotypically male jobs, both sexes spontaneously masculinised their voices, by lowering pitch and resonance, and they also feminised their voices for stereotypically female occupations, by raising their pitch and resonance.

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Children, and especially boys, show stronger stereotyping about masculine and feminine jobs than previously suspected, a study by the University of Sussex reveals.

New research reveals the extent to which girls exaggerated their gendered voices to imitate workers in different professions dropped off at around seven but continues to increase beyond that age with boys.

Boys also used an overtly masculine voice even when imitating workers in gender-neutral roles, the study found.

Research in the field of gender stereotypes usually involves asking study participants what they think about men and women doing different jobs, but there are concerns this can mask people’s true beliefs because their answers may be biased by their desire to conform.

So instead, University of Sussex psychologists tapped into children’s unconscious stereotypes by asking them to speak in the voices of people with different occupations.

The research found that for stereotypically male jobs, both sexes spontaneously masculinised their voices, by lowering pitch and resonance, and they also feminised their voices for stereotypically female occupations, by raising their pitch and resonance.

The academics are advising authors and children’s TV writers to be extra vigilant about associating job roles too strongly with a specific gender, to avoid children associating certain jobs exclusively with a given gender. They also call attention to the voice as an untapped resource to monitor and potentially challenge implicit stereotypes in children.

Dr Valentina Cartei, research fellow at the University of Sussex’s School of Psychology, said: “Our study found that boys were especially likely to accentuate the vocal masculinity or femininity of people doing different jobs. This pattern suggests that children have differential evaluations of males and females engaging in stereotypical and counter-stereotypical occupations.”

If we are to successfully challenge these occupational stereotypes, then as well as having depictions of both male and female nurses, we need occupational role models who vary in vocal masculinity and femininity, such as male nurses with both low and high vocal pitch.

In the study, children between the ages of five and ten took part in a voice production task where they were provided with descriptions of traditionally male, female and gender neutral professions and asked to give voices to people in each of those jobs.

In order to measure children’s beliefs about gender stereotypes using the more conventional approach, the researchers also asked them to complete a questionnaire which asked them directly about men and women carrying out particular job roles.

The researchers created a simple Index of Stereotypicality which they believe could be used to quantify implicit occupational stereotyping in children.

Used alongside software that can extract pitch from the recording of children’s voices, the academics believe the index could be a useful tool for teachers and practitioners interested in challenging stereotypes.

Professor Jane Oakhill said: “The strength of stereotypicality based on vocal pitch revealed stereotypes that were not found in children’s direct responses to the conventional questions about men and women doing different jobs. This suggests that children continue to entertain gender stereotypes even if they are not prepared to say so explicitly.

“If we are to successfully challenge these occupational stereotypes, then as well as having depictions of both male and female nurses, we need occupational role models who vary in vocal masculinity and femininity, such as male nurses with both low and high vocal pitch. Unconscious bias training should also include voice cues to help teachers and parents become aware of and challenge biases about gender stereotypes in relation to particular jobs.”

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Research from Lenovo & Intel finds that tech could be great equalizer among different cultures

More than half of global respondents say that a company’s diversity and inclusion policies are “extremely” or “very” important when deciding where to apply and whether to accept an offer.

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The first chapter of a new global research report by Lenovo and Intel finds that technology will play an integral role in achieving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace of the future.  With the power to bridge accessibility gaps, connect people who are otherwise divided, and expand the impact of upskilling and progressive training programs, tech already facilitates the ability to work in more dynamic, flexible ways than ever before.

The joint global study explores how people around the world view D&I in their personal and professional lives, and their perspective on the role technology plays to address systematic inequities, create more access, and enable growth.

“We know that when organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion, financial performance, innovation, and talent acquisition and retention flourish,” says Lenovo’s Yolanda Lee Conyers, Chief Diversity Officer and President of the Lenovo Foundation. “As the makers of devices that enable connectivity across cultural and geographic boundaries, tech companies like Lenovo have an obligation to ensure that products are created with diverse consumers in mind, and that can only be achieved with a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“Intel has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe that transparency is key, and our goal is to see our representation mirror the markets and customers we serve. Just as we apply our engineering mindset to create the world’s leading technological innovations, we do the same with our D&I strategies, using data to inform our decisions and sharing it transparently to drive clear accountability and deliver results across the industry,” says Barbara Whye, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and VP of Social Impact and Human Resources at Intel. “We know that to truly progress D&I, it takes companies working together and being a global company, this work can’t be limited to the US only. That’s why with both companies sharing a rich history of collaboration, we decided to extend our partnership and conduct a global survey.”

“We know that when organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion, financial performance, innovation, and talent acquisition and retention flourish.”

The findings within the technology chapter suggest that, if a more diverse and inclusive workplace is the goal, technology has the potential to get us there, as it facilitates human connection, understanding, and ultimately, empathy.

The study shows the potential of technology does not come without apprehension, though. Many respondents indicated they worry about whether technology, including AI, could potentially silence or leave behind those historically marginalized or underrepresented. Although participants expressed concerns over the harmful potential of AI, those in emerging markets are most optimistic, with more than 8-in-10 participants across Brazil and China agreeing that AI can be used to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive.

Lenovo and Intel’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Global Workplace study explores the attitudes of approximately 5,096 respondents across five key geographic markets of China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Brazil between December 19, 2019 and January 7, 2020. This chapter focusing on the theme of technology is the first of four total installments. Additional chapters regarding “What Workers Want”, “Modern Mentorship”, and “D&I as a Workplace Trailblazer” are to be announced throughout the remainder of the year.

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52% of LGBT people worried about financial future – study

25% of LGBT people saw their household income fall by half or more due to the pandemic. More than half (56%) of the 18% unemployed cited Covid-19 as the reason for not being employed.

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More than half of people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA community are worried about their financial future. This is according to Prudential’s latest Financial Wellness Census, which found that 52% of LGBT people claimed so.

The study particularly looked at how people are holding up during the Covid-19 pandemic. To do this, the pollsters compared data from December 2019 and May 2020.

It was found that 25% of LGBT people saw their household income fall by half or more due to the pandemic. More than half (56%) of the 18% unemployed cited Covid-19 as the reason for not being employed.

Overall, 51% said that their financial health was negatively impacted by the pandemic, with women, younger generations, small businesses and gig workers disproportionately impacted.

The poll was done in the US, but the effects of Covid-19 on LGBTQIA people – including Filipinos – have already been documented. Locally, for instance, LGBTQIA gig workers lamented the impact of lockdowns; and how government support often exclude them even if they are just-as-in-need of support.

According to Jamie Kalamarides, president of Prudential Group Insurance, the lack of financial resiliency is a threat to democracy. Workers and their families are “under a tremendous amount of stress,” he said. “Covid-19 was the catalyst that lowered the river and showed the rocks that were the underlying causes – lack of accessibility, lack of emergency savings and lack of a path towards sustainable financial wealth. This lack of financial resiliency is a threat to… democracy because without a path toward the middle class that’s available for everybody, our society is at risk. The solution is not to have individuals and their families try to bootstrap themselves up. It’s about fixing the systemic challenges and problems and barriers that cause inequity… With that, we can all have financial resiliency.”

Six demographics were actually polled, and LGBT people had the highest percentage of respondents (25%) who said their household income had fallen by half or more. Gen Xers were at 22%, Millennials 21%, women 19%, men 14%, and Boomers 8%.

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