Some men are being driven away from macho occupations such as surgery and the military because they don’t feel they are “man enough”, according to research.
A study published in the British Journal of Psychology says this means that only individuals who see themselves as macho apply for and stay in such jobs.
Although there is much evidence of the negative impact of gendered workplace stereotypes on women, less attention has been paid to their effect on men.
In a two-part study of 218 Royal Marine recruits and 117 male surgical trainees, the researchers found that simply being a man isn’t enough to protect from the corrosive effects of macho stereotypes.
Women have made substantial inroads into some traditionally masculine occupations but not into others.
“There is evidence that the latter group of occupations is characterised by the hyper-masculine macho stereotypes that are especially disadvantageous to women,” says Professor Michelle Ryan of the University of Exeter says.
“We explored whether these macho occupational stereotypes that are associated with marine commandos and surgeons also discourage men who feel that they are ‘not man enough’.”
The researchers found new male recruits with a perceived “lack of fit” with commandos were associated with reduced identification and motivation.
And male surgical trainees who didn’t feel they fitted in were more likely to want to leave the profession.
Both occupations are either exclusively or predominantly male. Women are excluded from the Royal Marines, while they make up only around 25% of surgical trainees and 9% of surgical consultants.
But despite the domination of macho stereotypes, the researchers say their findings offer hope for more equality in the future.
Dr Kim Peters of the University of Queensland says men who enter into and remain within such occupations will be those who exemplify the occupation’s macho stereotypes.
“Intriguingly, this suggests that increasing the appeal of these occupations to a more diverse range of men may be one way of increasing their appeal to women,” Dr Peters says.
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