Open Studio 4: Transforming masculinity roles

Open studio #4, Cycle #1

The fourth Open Studio of the first cycle, held on the 14 and 15 October 2021, was titled ‘Better is Possible: Transforming Masculinity Roles’. It brought together a number of participants from the RESISTIRÉ consortium itself as well as experts, stakeholders, and creative people from outside of the project.

The COVID-19 outbreak highlighted some of the gender differences that existed in society. The gender care gap and the large amounts of unpaid work that women were performing became more visible. However, at the same time, the fact that this inequality became more visible meant that men were starting to be more aware of it, and some responded by taking up more of this work.

Therefore, the pandemic has created the opportunity to rethink masculinities and male ideals. As mentioned, there has been the fact that men have increased their amount of domestic work during the pandemic (even though the burden still disproportionately fell on women). Another opportunity is the increased involvement of fathers in childcare activities. Research has shown that fathers have become more involved with their children. One consequence of the pandemic that could enforce this trend is teleworking. As many people were forced to work from home during the pandemic, they were suddenly spending more time in the household, and with their families. For men, this was even more unusual, as in practice they are often not allowed to take up paternity leave or ask for a flexible schedule to be able to do care activities. 

Finally, during the pandemic, fathers have also been disadvantaged by societies’ views on men and care. They were often not allowed to be present during the birth of their child, and it was difficult for single parents to take care of their child due to traveling restrictions.

Therefore, the questions that the Open Studio tries to address are the following: Can we use the momentum created by a revision of traditional work arrangements to contribute to the development or reinforcement of caring masculinities? Can these changes lead to a shift in the organisational culture and image of the ideal (male) worker and men’s identity? How do we design policies that support men in taking family responsibilities? How do we ensure that fathers can maintain contact with their child? And how to allow fathers to fully participate in the birth of their child in all circumstances?