Men are less likely than women to wear face masks because they see it as ‘a sign of weakness,’ a survey found

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  • A survey of nearly 2,500 people found that men were less likely than women to wear face masks.
  • It also found that men were less likely than women to believe they would be seriously affected by COVID-19.
  • The survey found men saw masks as “a sign of weakness” and “not cool.”
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Men are far more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus than women, but a new study found that men are less likely to wear face masks outside, as health officials recommend.

According to the survey of 2,459 people, men who shunned mask-wearing cited concerns that face masks make them look weak and uncool.

“Men more than women agree that wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness, and a stigma,” the study authors wrote. The New York Post first reported the story, noting that other surveys had uncovered similar results about men’s reluctance to wear masks.

But all of those gender differences went away in counties where mask-wearing was mandatory, evidence that making mask-wearing could have a greater effect on men than women.

The study, based on members of Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online crowdsourcing marketplace, also found that men were less likely to believe they would be seriously affected by the new coronavirus, even though research has shown that men may be more at risk of getting infected.

Trump honeywell mask
President Donald Trump chose not to wear a mask as he participated in a tour of a Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The study authors noted that while the study was representative of people in an urban environment, some groups were slightly overrepresented: men, white people, and people aged between 25 and 54.

Previous research found that women are more likely to wear face masks as a precaution. During the SARS outbreak, researchers found women were more likely to don face masks. Researchers also found that women were more likely to wear face masks during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic and while going out and experiencing symptoms of influenza.

“Age and gender play an important role in determining whether someone will comply with wearing a mask,” authors of a 2013 analysis on mask-wearing wrote.

Some of America’s most prominent male leaders are not wearing masks

When Arizona Republic reporter BrieAnna Frank showed up to visit an Arizona Honeywell plant that had pivoted to mask-manufacturing, she wore a mask, while Trump, who was visiting in a presidential capacity, did not. She tweeted that she was harassed for wearing a mask, and that one man told her “it’s submission, it’s muzzling yourself, it looks weak – especially for men.”

Vice president Mike Pence was widely criticised for not wearing a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic. Pence later apologised, telling Fox News “I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask.” He added that he did wear a mask while visiting an Indiana General Motors plant two days later.

Colombia, Cuba, Austria, and Morocco are among the over 75 countries that mandate that residents wear masks.

In America, the CDC officially recommends that people wear masks while out in the public, while some American counties have mandated mask-wearing.