Printer Friendly

Men and gender mainstreaming: prospects and pitfalls of a European strategy.

Since the late 1990s, "Gender Mainstreaming" has been the main strategy in European politics to address inequalities between men and women. Going beyond former equality politics that focused on inequality on the labor market and the promotion of women, the definition of Gender Mainstreaming explicitly includes women and men, and addresses all kinds of policy fields. Thus, Gender Mainstreaming can be regarded as an official strategy that allows all political actors to work on gender issues in a comprehensive way.
 Gender mainstreaming is the integration of the gender perspective
 into every stage of policy processes--design, implementation,
 monitoring and evaluation--with a view to promoting equality between
 women and men. It means assessing how policies impact on the life
 and position of both women and men--and taking responsibility to
 re-address them if necessary. This is the way to make gender
 equality a concrete reality in the lives of women and men creating
 space for everyone within the organisations as well as in
 communities--to contribute to the process of articulating a shared
 vision of sustainable human development and translating it into
 reality. (European Commission, n.d.)

Gender Mainstreaming has its roots in development policy. It was first introduced as a political strategy in 1985, at the World Conference on Women of the United Nations in Nairobi. Approximately a decade later, first steps toward an implementation of this strategy on a national level were taken in Europe, with Northern European countries as early adopters. Already in early documents of the European Union, a pragmatic motivation to introduce Gender Mainstreaming became apparent: The demographic development in Europe made it necessary to include women into the labor market to a higher degree, so that the overall life standard could be maintained.

Step by step, Gender Mainstreaming has entered the European agenda, and national governments, ministries and agencies have committed themselves to implement referring measures, with labor market policy as the first and most important area. In 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam entered into force. Since then, the member states of the EU are obliged to active equality policies in the sense of Gender Mainstreaming.

Before 2000, the gender related labor market policy in Austria had been characterized by women's support for 20 years, similar to many other European countries, except Scandinavia. Men were not seen as a relevant target group in terms of gender equality. Gender Mainstreaming fostered new topics in the discussion, for example, child care duties as a jurisdictional claim for men, or measures toward men in the so-called untypical occupations (e.g., nursing and care occupations). The slowly increasing integration of men's topics into the Gender Mainstreaming discourse has met acknowledging as well as rejecting reactions. The most skeptical arguments were given by experts and practitioners who feared a decrease of funding for women's promotion. Nevertheless, a lively scene of male and female researchers and practitioners has emerged, often inspired by Scandinavian models. These activists have tried to develop an integrated approach toward gender equality, taking men and women into account. A variety of programs and projects has been initiated, funded and realized up to now.

A Short Comparison of Welfare and Gender Regimes in European Countries

European research and practice projects that involve several countries often start with an overview of the respective national situations, concerning the topic under consideration. With its variety of languages, cultural backgrounds and national legislations, Europe is a complex and diverse area, which offers the possibility to compare practices across different national conditions. We want to give a brief example of how such comparison frameworks can look like, to locate countries like Austria or Germany in the European context.

According to comparative welfare state research (Esping-Andersen, 1990), three categories of welfare systems can be identified, according to the criteria social services and their impact on decommodification, quality of social services, and impact of social policy on social stratification.

* Liberal regime. In this kind of system, the state has a rather reacting role, concerning social security. Private insurance systems are of high importance, transfer payments (i.e., non-compensatory government payments to individuals: welfare or social security benefits) are seen as residual (USA, Canada, Australia, UK).

* Conservative regime. Countries like France, Italy, Germany and Austria show more comprehensive social politics than it is the case within the liberal regime. Social transfer payments are strongly connected to the labor market status of citizens, with a minor re-distributional impact.

* Social-democratic regime. This kind of welfare state systems is found in Scandinavian countries. The quality of the social systems is high, with a philosophy of equality of the highest standards. A high degree of decommodification is given, that is the possibility to leave the labor market for a certain period and still make one's living. Decommodification is seen as an important quality criterion for welfare states.

Esping-Andersen's classic approach, developed almost two decades ago, has stimulated the development of advanced models (for an overview, see Leitner, Ostner & Schratzenstaller, 2004). Lewis and Ostner (1994) have taken the reproductive sphere into account by integrating the aspect of unpaid labor, mostly done by women, and they have proposed a classification of gender regimes (i.e., gendered assumptions and effects in welfare systems and social policy). This classification is based on the degree to which a cohabitation model of male breadwinner and female caretaker is assumed and reinforced by welfare state measures.

* Male breadwinner--strong type, e.g., Austria or Germany, is characterized by a low labor market participation rate of mothers and discontinuity in female working biographies. Caring work is mainly done by women. Only few children under three years of age are in child-care facilities. Often, the entitlement of women to benefits of the welfare and social system depends on their husbands (derived entitlement).

* Male breadwinner--moderate type. France and Belgium are examples for this category. The family policies foster birth rates. Transfer payments are focusing on families. The labor market participation rate of mothers is relatively high, but there is no focus on the redistribution of caring work among men and women.

* Male breadwinner--weak type. The Scandinavian countries are assigned to this type. A high labor market participation rate of women and mothers can be found. Derived entitlement to benefits have been reduced (e.g., alimony). Measures to redistribute caring work among the genders (e.g., progressive parental leave regulations) are there.

Often, the Scandinavian examples serve as models of good practice within the European Gender Mainstreaming discussion. Northern Europe is seen as the most advanced region in terms of gender equality, although experts warn that the achievements are only partial and should not be idealized (Holter, 2003). Nevertheless, when we refer to experiences in gender awareness workshops below, or when the situation concerning the labor market or parental leave taken by men in Austria or Germany is discussed, it is important to have in mind where these countries are located on a hypothetical European gender equality map according to the comparative models mentioned above, namely on the rather conservative side, characterized by a highly gendered labor market with strong gender gaps.

The concept of decommodification has a specific meaning in connection with men, gender equality, and the re-allocation of paid and unpaid labor, respectively the re-allocation of productive and reproductive sphere among the genders. Welfare systems are of high quality if they allow people to refrain from commodity for a certain period, as it is the case if people have to do caring work for children or relatives. Conservative regimes allow a certain degree of decommodification, but the respective measures foster a traditional division of labor among women and men (e.g., Austria has had a parental leave regulation with wage compensation on a low flat rate base). In the case of a heterosexual couple with a newborn child, the existing gender pay gap will be an incentive for an increased engagement of the man in his job, and for the engagement of the woman in care and domestic work. Holter has introduced the concept of a "'sprinkle system" (p. 25), which consists of economic incentives that reinforce a traditional distribution of work among the genders. Such a system may become a normative center in a society, with appropriate ideological messages concerning men.
 The "sprinkling system" consists of economic incentives that favour
 the provider or breadwinner role, rather than the caring role. It
 keeps men out of care-related activities, professional caregiving
 work as well as caregiving in private life.... It is also social,
 cultural and psychological.... The two basic ideological messages
 of the system rest on the premise of the man as the hard outgoing
 instrumental type--the "go on till you drop" syndrome. One message
 is that men are expendable. The other is that men do not care.
 (Holter, p. 25, ff.)

Policies that focus on decommodification for men in caring contexts support the contrary of the male expendable, non-caring performer. Connell (1996, 2005) has emphasized the organization of institutions around reproduction and production, and production/reproduction is a central topic within the three-fold model of the structure of gender (power; production; cathexis). Connell's concept of hegemonic masculinity leads to the ideological messages outlined by Holter. Bohnisch (2003, 2004) has elaborated male exposure to the production sphere, and he has emphasized the limited chances for men to elude commodification. Therefore, the concept of Gender Mainstreaming with its preliminary locus on the labor market actually meets some strands of critical men's studies, as far as bending men to society's aims in the production sphere is concerned. "Working life and the economy are strategic areas for improving gender-equal status today" (Holter, p. 183). From this angle, men's interests in gender equality and their position within a strategy to reach it, namely Gender Mainstreaming, can be derived.

Men and Gender Equality

At first sight, it may be assumed that men will show little interest in increased activities toward gender equality, as they might lose power and privileges. Basically, Connell's (2005) concept of the patriarchal dividend points into this direction, and there has been empirical research on how gender equality in organizations is hindered by men (Hoyng & Puchert, 1998). In addition to a possible loss of privileges, Meuser (2000) has proposed the explanation of a high pressure toward conformity among men, which works against men's engagement in gender equality issues. As far as Gender Mainstreaming is concerned, men's role within this strategy has been discussed in an ambivalent way. Gender issues used to be interpreted "as women's issues rather than both women's and men's issues" (Holter, p. 145). Meanwhile, the voices that call for an integration of men into efforts toward gender equality have become louder. "Men need to be included on the map, both in terms of problems and barriers and in terms of possibilities and choices" (Holter, p. 145).

Men's interests in gender equality can ground on various perspectives. A first one refers to more general views like social justice and democracy. Villa and Lenz (2006) have pointed to the fact that structural inequalities between men and women don't discriminate against women only, but reflect a fundamental democratic deficit. "If gender relations are unequal in structural terms, then equality of all people in a social structure (e.g., a national state, is not realized). In principle this concerns all people" (Villa & Lenz, p. 268; authors' translation).

In connection with the unequal distribution of production and reproduction work among men and women, unusual perspectives can be developed. Holter has worked on the idea of gender discrimination against men in connection with the division of labor.
 Contemporary social changes make discrimination against men as
 caregivers more visible than before, but there is also a more
 traditional form of discrimination, often discussed in terms of the
 male role and associated with a cultural theme where men and boys
 are seen as "expendable". Men, therefore, have an interest in
 gender equality that goes beyond their relationships to women even
 if it is deeply related to these relationships. Men can develop
 gender-equal views and behaviours that are based on their own
 experiences and interests. (Holter, p. 182)

In Germany, Bohnisch (2000, 2003,2004) has developed the concept of externalization as a production principle of male sociation. Based on the general idea that societies produce those gendered identities that they need for their functioning, the male socialization process in the industrial-capitalist era has produced male identities that have been useful for industrial production and wars. Externalization results in suppressing devaluated inner states, like fear and feeling of weakness, and it results in an outside orientation toward action. Such disciplining processes bend men to society's aims and prepare them for a total exposure to the production sphere. In this sense, men are sociated in a reduced, distorted way, only in terms of production, whereas women are sociated in a two-fold way (production and reproduction). This exposure of men to the production sphere limits the scope of development as a human being. Furthermore, men's externalization may contribute to a range of problems (e.g., health problems, risk taking, violence, etc.). The patriarchal dividend (Connell, 2005) can compensate only partly for this kind of reduction. Under this perspective, a specific way of male suffering of their sociation is discussed and addressed, although often in a fragmented and individualized way. According to Meuser, activities and strategies concerning institutionalized men's work are mainly "concentrated on coping the psychological resulting costs that go along with habitual unsettlement ... but rarely focus on the societal privileges of the male gender for political action" (p. 73; authors' translation). Here, Gender Mainstreaming as a comprehensive strategy toward gender equality with mutual reference of the genders is the framework of choice to develop men's politics further, in the direction of exit or transformative politics:
 There is no convenient name for this form of politics; it seeks to
 exit from current patriarchal structures (thus the term
 "anti-sexist men's movement"), but it also tries to transform
 existing forms of masculinity. It shares many goals with gay
 politics but has a different underlying logic, since it involves an
 attempt to escape from a gender identity, not to affirm one.
 (Connell, 1996, section "Masculinity Politics", para. 14)

As far as escaping from a gender identity is concerned, connections to positions from queer theory can be established. Wilchins (1997, 2004) has criticized any form of identity politics, and she has proposed to tackle any form of gender stereotypes in a comprehensive way. A gender system based on gender stereotypes causes discrimination and violence, which can hurt all people.
 Gay men who were attacked because they were, or were perceived as,
 effeminate: a class-action suit by female employees who were kept
 in traditional "feminine" jobs; boys who were beaten up for liking
 pencils and math more than girls and sports; ... Gender-related
 problems were all around. We just had to look through a different
 lens. (Wilchins, 2004, p. 146)

The approach that gender stereotypes cause suffering for all people in a society, including boys and men, offers a possibility for new alliances also in terms of the interests of many men, to move beyond a distorted sociation. "The relevant model is, I think, one of a variety of struggles in diverse sites, linked through networking rather than mass mobilization or formal organization. Not a social movement of men, but some kind of alliance politics" (Connell, 1996, section "Models of Politics", para. 7). However, the position to tackle gender stereotypes in general and to deconstruct the Binary Zoo (Wilchins, 1997) is not yet very popular in the scene of men's groups and initiatives in the German speaking countries. Within the referring discourse, people rather try to find and define some male identity than to question and dismantle it. Again, it has to be noted that the strategy of Gender Mainstreaming, with its implicit emphasis on gender as a social construction, its explicit notion of including women and men, respectively subgroups of women and men as differentiated beneficiary groups, and its explicit goal to reach gender equality, is a preferable alternative to any kind of male identity politics. On the other hand, these potentials of Gender Mainstreaming must yet be developed. At the moment, the strategy is still focusing on women, labor market, and reconciliation issues, with men, parental leave regulations, and caring work as recent extensions. If Gender Mainstreaming is not developed further toward a wider concept of diversity, its orientation will get stuck in hetero-normative concepts.

An Example for a Training Method

A lot of material about strategic and methodological approaches concerning Gender Mainstreaming has been published in the German speaking countries, as elsewhere (e.g., Bendl, Hanappi-Egger & Hofmann, 2004; Bergmann & Pimminger, 2004; Blickhauser & von Bargen, 2006; Lange, 2006; Muhlen Achs, 1998; Netzwerk Gender Training, 2004). The common theoretical model of implementing Gender Mainstreaming in an organization consists of a sequence of activities (Bergmann & Pimminger). Analyzing the status quo is the first step (analysis), to define goals on the basis of such a gender analysis (goals). These goals must be implemented into organizational processes or projects (implementation), and the outcomes and impacts are evaluated (evaluation). Based on the results of the evaluation, new goals can be developed. Gender Mainstreaming related activities should be planned as organizational development processes in which analysis, organizational counseling and gender awareness trainings are realized according to an implementation concept. In practice, a pitfall is to agree on a contract for gender awareness trainings with employees of an organization only, without integration into an organizational development framework that includes analysis, definition of goals and other elements. Without the commitment of the whole organization, including the top-levels, such activities will lack impact.

Gender awareness trainings or workshops are aimed at sharpening the participants' perceptions on the social construction of gender and at dismantling gender stereotypes. Thus, from a psychological and sociological perspective, a lot of topics are relevant, such as social cognition, attitudes, gendered self-concepts, doing gender, gender structures in organizations, gender in public discourses, and many more. The following example for a training method (1) is related to the thematic areas of reproduction and production; intersectionality of gender and social stratification. From a social psychological point of view, the method addresses the topics gender stereotypes and attribution.

In the training sessions, the following situation is introduced. A heterosexual couple, man and woman, are expecting their first child. Both partners work full time. The country in which they live has introduced a parental leave system that allows both partners to take parental leave, with a wage compensation of a flat rate that is lower than each partner's income (as it has been the standard case in Austria). The couple now has to decide who will stay at home and take the main responsibility for caring and housework, while the other one stays in his or her job. The participants in the training group, men and women, are asked to discuss the four case examples that are listed in Table l, to predict which partner will take parental leave, and to give reasons for the assumed decisions of the imaginary couple.

As we have experienced, these case examples lead to lively discussions in the group and reveal various gendered assumptions of male and female participants. We only want to give a few examples here. Often, the discussion starts at the variable income relation. If the man earns more (cell a and cell c), then the group will agree that probably the man will stay in his job, and the woman will take parental leave. At first sight, people see no reason why the man--and not the woman--should quit his job. If the woman earns more (cell b and cell d), the picture is more mixed; some participants find it more rational that the woman remains in her job and the man takes over the reproductive part, in order to maximize the household income. Others argue that the partners are forced into this arrangement in cell d, but still have an open option for either variant in cell b---because the couple has a high income and could afford to choose the variant that does not maximize the household income. Sometimes, this kind of considerations lead to a discussion about the impact of the household income level on the optional space of the imaginary couple; it is assumed that a higher income will increase options, so that either the man can take parental leave and the woman stays at work in cell a, or vice versa in cell b. In most discussions, both variants are seen as opposed to the logic of maximizing the household income by the group and provoke further attribution processes.

It is the job of the trainers to moderate the discussion, to ask questions against mainstream thinking, to introduce explanations that are not straightforward and to connect macro-, meso-, and micro-levels, from national regulations and organizational structures to partnership arrangements and gender-specific attitudes, values and beliefs. By reflecting the discussion process and one's own implicit gender theories and assumptions, men and women in the training groups can profit from questioning each other's positions and initial assignment patterns (e.g., the man is assigned to the production sphere, the woman to the reproduction sphere). Furthermore, the trainers may emphasize the existing diversity within the gender groups by pointing to different models of cohabitation and to the restricting scope of a binary gender system. To do so, the examples in the exercise themselves are deconstructed as hetero-normative. In a discussion about lathers, mothers, the labor market, career, parental leave regulations, low birth rates and demographical issues, a dichotomous system of male and female is maintained. (This combination of topics is certainly an important strategic area to include men into gender equality politics. However, an even more comprehensive approach will be needed to integrate all genders and forms of cohabitation, and to tackle the respective restricting gender stereotypes.)

The main target group of gender trainings consists of policy makers in the widest sense, as well as practitioners on all levels. This refers to the definition of Gender Mainstreaming as the "integration of the gender perspective into every stage of policy processes--design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation" (European Commission, n.d.). Thus. it is important to raise the participants' awareness of how the policy processes in which they themselves are involved (with their ideas, decisions and actions) can contribute to create, maintain or dismantle the social positions of the genders in society, to some degree. In this sense, Gender Mainstreaming clearly suggests theoretical positions that conceptualize gender as something changeable. On the other hand, there is not the one correct theoretical position to substitute the participants' stereotypes and assumptions of gender; Gender Theory consists of a wide and complex theoretical field, and gender trainings can make people curious to learn more about it. Once the participants have started to reflect, the main objective of gender training is achieved.

Empirical research on the effects of gender trainings is still fragmented, but evaluations show that such workshops may be well accepted, and positive results can be obtained, e.g., concerning competencies to resolve conflicts related to gender, prevention of gender discrimination, or quality of professional work (Blickhauser, 2004). On the level of organizations, beneficial aspects of gender-related measures for organizational development and value creation has been demonstrated (for a brief overview see Holter).

Basis of the Method: Intervening Conditions for Caring Masculinities

Many of the methods in gender trainings are based on scientific knowledge and research results. The method presented above was derived from an international research project on men and labor in the 5th European Framework Programme (Puchert, Gartner, & Hoyng, 2005). Among other tasks within this research project, interviews with men who had taken over caring tasks for their children or relatives in six countries (Austria, Germany, Norway, Spain, Bulgaria and Israel) were performed. Many variables turned out as important for the men's entering, adapting and remaining in caring situations, from the national parental leave regulations to biographical experiences, from stereotypical assumptions in organizations to reactions of the partner, friends or people on the playground. The socio-economic status of the men and their partners had turned out as an important intervening condition. An interaction of income level, the relation of the incomes of the partners, and the household decision who was going to take over the main responsibility for caring tasks became apparent across countries, but this interaction could be moderated by progressive parental leave regulations, for example, in Northern European countries (Scambor, Schwerma, & Abril, 2005).

In general, interactions of gender with important other variables that constitute social difference must be taken into consideration. Some of the most important variables are class, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and generation (Meuser). These connections of gender with other important dimensions of social inequality are increasingly discussed (Knapp & Wetterer, 2003; McCall, 2001), mainly under the heading of intersectionality. In gender trainings, the perspective that all these dimensions are interacting helps to develop a differentiated view on gender, under which common features of men and women in similar living conditions as well as the variability within the genders become apparent.


The strategy of Gender Mainstreaming suggests the perspective of gender as a social construct that simplifies social order and creates hierarchies, in all areas of society. However, the concept of gender as a social construction doesn't find its way into everyday discourses. In gender trainings, it is a frequent case that the trainers are confronted with strong stereotypical assumptions, brought forward by men and women.

In contrast to the beginning of the '90s, social-constructivist positions and deconstruction prevail within the academic and professional-practical discourses today, as far as German speaking countries are concerned. Meuser mentioned three variants of social constructivist positions, namely ethno-methodology (doing gender, gender as local production), discourse theory (gender as effect of discourses) and system theory. "Whoever doesn't speak of gender as a construct, almost arouses suspicion of heresy" (Meuser, p. 50; authors' translation). On the other hand, most of the popular discourse is focusing on simplistic concepts that can be summarized as essentialist positions, in various variants, for example, "fundamentalist religious or socio-biological deterministic streams" (Frey et al., 2006, p. 5; authors' translation). As far as specific men's literature is concerned, masculinist and mytho-poetic positions must be mentioned in addition (for an overview see Doge, 1999). Concerning the perspective on men, Connell (2005, p. 68) has summarized essentialist positions as follows, "Essentialist definitions usually pick a feature that defines the core of the masculine, and hang an account of men's lives on that."

In the popular discourse, especially socio-biologist positions are very prominent. As a consequence, these concepts become a topic in almost every gender training. As was outlined above, it is necessary to address these assumptions because essentialist positions are incompatible with any change process. "Gender is a scandal, an outrage, from the point of view of essentialism. Sociobiologists are constantly trying to abolish it. by proving that human social arrangements are a reflex of evolutionary imperatives" (Connell, 2005, p. 72).

Bohnisch (2003) has connected the popularity of essentialist positions with today's socio-economic conditions. Especially for men, the conditions of digital capitalism, abstraction of work, erosion of the former normal employment pattern and a feeling of being dis-embedded have become severe threats that fosters the acceptance of "an emotional anchor" (Bohnisch, 2003, p. 211; authors' translation), which is offered by various essentialist positions. Meanwhile, a considerable market of specific seminars, literature and other essentialist products for men has emerged.

The concept of gender as a social construction is more complex and demanding than essentialist positions. In terms of gender trainings, this is a specific challenge. "In our view, critically reflecting gender-practice has the responsibility to point to complex gender structures, and to counteract the banalization and reproduction of differences at the same time." (Frey et al., p. 6; authors' translation) In terms of the popular discourse, the higher complexity of constructivist positions may be a disadvantage at first sight. Nevertheless, a translation of gender-theoretical positions into everyday life is needed, which can compete with simplistic essentialist concepts, and that provides alternatives to restorative emotional compensation in a changing world.
 Feminist theory gave us feminism, and gay theory helped give us gay
 rights. But unless we bring gender theory out of the ivory towers
 and put it to work in the streets, we may be witnessing the birth
 of a major philosophic movement that succeeds in politicizing
 practically everything but produces practically nothing in the way
 of organized, systemic social change. And that would be a pity.
 (Wilchins, 2004, p. 106)

Besides translation of theoretical concepts to understandable versions, the efforts to move Gender Theory out of the ivory towers would be supported by a positive atmosphere toward building a society that is based on fairness, justice and better distribution of wealth. Clearly, gender is among those variables that account for inequalities in our societies, and tackling these inequalities means to question gendered structures on various levels (labor, care, socialization, cohabitation, etc.). In a societal climate that demands changes, theories that emphasize changeability of structures will succeed.

Gender Mainstreaming as a Social Regulation Technology

Bohnisch (2003) has criticized Gender Mainstreaming as a simplistic administrative regulation technology to manage the relations between the genders. In fact, Gender Mainstreaming has been introduced as a top-down strategy, with its focus on organizational development. The contradictions and difficulties that practitioners face in their concrete work reflect the deficits of the Gender Mainstreaming strategy, e.g., when important people resist to cooperate, when resistance against distributing deficits among the genders becomes apparent, or when a social constructivist position is assumed--but the persons involved hold essentialist attitudes that are subjectively meaningful to compensate for socio-economic changes. Here, a top-down strategy is not the appropriate approach, but discussion, examination and arguments will be necessary. In general, the discussion about gender equality will have to be extended toward distributional issues in societies and social policy.

For many men today, a major problem consists of their unbalanced socialization as performers in the world of labor, while major changes on the labor markets take place, which make a self-concept as a working man obsolete. As the working biographies of men and women slowly converge, precariousness increases, and the split on the labor market affects men and women, questions of distributional justice, of social cohesion and of welfare politics in general start to enter the discussion, with a critical view on economic and societal development. "The tension between human being and economy remains the magnetic field in which femininity and masculinity will develop in future, in a societal sense" (Bohnisch, 2003. p. 135: authors' translation). Maybe this direction has not been intended by the top-down introduction of the Gender Mainstreaming strategy, but early signs of such a discourse can be observed. In a bottom-up approach, engaged researchers and practitioners have connected Gender Mainstreaming with their contents and have given the strategy a specific spin.


We have tried to outline how men can be included into the strategy of Gender Mainstreaming, and what chances and pitfalls go along with this effort. Current economic changes impose a specific pressure on many men; if Gender Mainstreaming is connected to a context of social justice and to the redistribution of production and reproduction, the one-sided socialization of men can be tackled. Therefore, the thematic areas currently discussed e.g., in Austria, namely women, men, paid labor, unpaid caring work, and parental leave regulations, constitute an important strategic area for working toward gender equality. However. hetero-normativity must be seen as a possible pitfall in this context.

For the practical work within Gender Mainstreaming in general, and gender trainings in particular, the following challenges result:

* to take the variability within the genus groups men and women into account, by considering important dimensions of social difference or inequality (e.g., class, ethnic background, generation, life situation)

* to consider the common ground of each gender that results from specific sociation patterns, and not to disregard currently existing differences

* to focus on power differences, disparities and inequalities among the genders and subgroups of genders

* to work toward deconstructing a binary gender system, to dismantle any gender stereotypes and hetero-normativity.

If Gender Mainstreaming is interpreted and realized in this manner, it is a real alternative to male identity politics. By developing a comprehensive strategy that includes men and women, and that addresses any kind of gender stereotypes, relevant changes are possible. It is still too early to say if this strategy will show any major and sustainable impacts. On the other hand, some signs are there. In the beginning of 2007, when this article was written, a debate about Gender Mainstreaming in German print media took place. Terms like political sex change or radical feminist takeover were used in various papers and journals to discredit Gender Mainstreaming and progressive equality politics (Gesterkamp, 2007; Von Marschall & Riesenfeld, 2007). An interpretation of such processes can be given with reference to the concept of gender trouble in organizations of Ohlendieck (2003). Basically, this concept says that trouble among male and female employees in an organization will emerge as soon as processes toward gender equality result in real competition for rare resources. Holter, Riesenfeld and E. Scambor (2005) have translated this concept to a phase model of organizational change, concerning gender equality processes. At an early stage, equality rhetoric prevails, but real changes are prevented. At a later stage, as soon as equality measures show real impacts, trouble among more and less privileged members of the organization starts, and conflicting forces toward change respectively restoration of the former conditions can be identified. If this model holds for whole societies and their public discourses, then there is hope: In this case, the recent gender trouble in German media may be read as an early sign that changes are on the way.


Bendl, R., Hanappi-Egger, E., & Hofmann, R. (2004). Interdisziplinares Gender- und Diversitatsmanagement. Einfuhrung in Theorie und Praxis [Interdisciplinary management of gender and diversity. Introduction into theory and practice]. Vienna, Austria: Linde Verlag.

Bergmann, N., & Pimminger, I. (2004). Praxishandbuch Gender Mainstreaming. Konzept, Umsetzung, Erfahrung [Practical handbook Gender Mainstreaming: Concept, realization, experience]. Vienna, Austria: GeM-Koordinationsstelle fur Gender Mainstreaming im ESF.

Blickhauser, A. (2004). Gender Training der Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung--ein Instrument zum Erwerb von Gender Kompetenz [Gender training of Heinrich-Boll-Foundation--an instrument for obtaining gender competency]. In Netzwerk Gender Training (Ed.), Geschlechterverhaltnisse bewegen. Erfahrungen mit Gender Training (pp. 159-173). Konigstein/Taunus, Germany: Ulrike Helmer Verlag.

Blickhauser. A., & von Bargen. H. (2006). Mehr Qualitat durch Gender-Kompetenz. Ein Wegweiser fur Training und Beratung im Gender Mainstreaming [Quality enhancement through gender competency: A guideline for training and counseling within Gender Mainstreaming]. Konigstein/Taunus, Germany: Ulrike Helmet Verlag.

Bohnisch, L. (2000). Korperlichkeit und Hegemonialitat--Zur Neuverortung des Mannseins in der segmentierten Arbeitsgesellschaft [Bodiliness and hegemony--on the new localization of being a man within segmented labour society]. In D. Janshen (Ed.), Blickwechsel. Der neue Dialog zwischen Frauen- und Mannerforschung (pp. 106-125). Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Campus.

Bohnisch, L. 12003). Die Entgrenzung der Mannlichkeit. Verstorungen und Formierungen des Mannseins im gesellschaftlichen Ubergang [The delimitation of masculinity: Confusions and formations of being a man during societal transition]. Opladen, Germany: Leske + Budrich.

Bohnisch, L. (2004). Mannliche Sozialisation. Eine Einfuhrung (Male socialization: An introduction]. Weinheim, Germany: Juventa.

Connell, R. (1996, December 1996-February 1997). Politics of changing men. Australian Humanities Review, 4. Retrieved February 6, 2007, from

Connell, R. (2005). Masculinities. (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Doge, P. (1999). Mannerforschung als Beitrag zur Geschlechterdemokratie. Ansatze kritischer Minnerforschung im Uberblick [Research on men as a contribution to gender democracy: Overview of approaches in critical men's studies]. Berlin. Germany: Bundesministerium fur Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend.

Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.

European Commission. (n.d.) Gender mainstreaming. General overview. Retrieved September 10, 2006, from gender_mainstreaming/general_overview_en.html

Frey, R., Hartmann, J., Heilmann, A., Kugler. T., Nordt, S., & Smykaila, S. (2006, August-September). Gender-Manifest [Gender manifesto]. Switchboard, 177, 4-7.

Gesterkamp, T. (2007, February-April). Gleichstellungspolitik als Kuriositaten-Kabinett [Gender equality politics as curiosity cabinet]. Switchboard, 180, 8.

Holter, O. G. (2003). Can men do it? Men and gender equality--the Nordic experience (TemaNord, 2003, 510). Copenhagen, Denmark: Oystein Gullvag Holter and Nordic Council of Ministers.

Holter, O. G., Riesenfeld, V., & Scambor. E. (2005). "We don't have anything like that here!"--Organisations, men and gender equality. In R. Puchert, M. Gartner & S. Hoyng (Eds.), Work changes gender. Men and equality in the transition of labour forms (pp. 73-104). Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.

Hoyng, S., & Puchert, R. (1998). Die Verhinderung der beruflichen Gleichstellung. Mannliche Verhaltensweisen und mannerbundische Kultur [The prevention of equality at work: Male ways of behavior and the culture of male societies]. Bielefeld, Germany: Kleine Verlag.

Knapp, G.-A., & Wetterer, A. (2003). Achsen der Differenz. Gesellschaftstheorie und feministische Kritik II [Axes of difference: Theory of society and feminist criticism II]. Munster, Germany: Westfalisches Dampfboot.

Lange, R. (2006). Gender-Kompetenz fur das Change-Management. Gender & Diversity als Erfolgsfaktoren fur organisationales Lernen [Gender competency for change management: Gender and diversity as factors of success for organizational learning]. Bern, Switzerland: Haupt Verlag.

Leitner, S., Ostner, I., & Schratzcnstaller, M. (Eds.). (2004). Wohlfahrtsstaat und Geschlechterverhaltnis im Umbruch. Was kommt nach dem Ernahrermodell? [Changing welfare states and gender relations: What will be there after the breadwinner model?]. Wiesbaden, Germany: VS-Verlag.

Lewis, J., & Ostner, I. (1994). Gender and the evolution of European social policy. Working Paper 4. Bremen, Germany: University of Bremen, Center for Social Policy Research.

McCall, L. (2001). Complex inequality. Gender, class and race in the new economy. New York: Routledge.

Meuser. M. (2000). Perspektiven einer Soziologie der Mannlichkeit [Perspectives of a sociology of masculinity]. In D. Janshen (Ed.), Blickwechsel. Der neue Dialog zwischen Frauen- und Mannerforschung (pp. 47-79). Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Campus.

Muhlen Achs, G. (1998). Geschlecht bewusst gemacht. Korpersprachliche Inszenierungen--ein Bilder- und Arbeitsbuch [Gender brought into consideration: Production by body language--a handbook with pictures]. Munich, Germany: Verlag Frauenoffensive.

Netzwerk Gender Training. (Ed.). (2004). Geschlechterverhaltnisse bewegen. Erfahrungen mit Gender Training [Moving gender relations: Experiences with gender training]. Konigstein/Taunus, Germany: Ulrike Helmer Verlag.

Ohlendieck, L. (2003). Gender trouble in Organisationen und Netzwerken [Gender trouble in organizations and networks]. In U. Pasero & C. Weinbach (Eds.), Frauen. Manner, Gender Trouble. Systemtheoretische Essays (pp. 171-185). Frankfurt/Main. Germany: Suhrkamp.

Puchert, R., Gartner, M., & Hoyng. S. (Eds.). (2005). Work changes gender. Men and equality in the transition of labour forms. Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.

Scambor. C., Schwerma, K., & Abril, P. (with Amichai-Hamburger, Y., Atanassova, M., Gartner. M., et al.). (2005). Toward a new positioning of men. In R. Puchert, M. Gartner, & S. Hoyng (Eds.), Work changes gender. Men and equality in the transition of labour forms (pp. 117-173). Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.

Villa. P. I., & Lenz, I. (2006). Partnerschaftliche Geschlechterforschung? Ein erfahrungsgesattigtes Nachwort [Gender research based on partnership? An experience-soaked epilogue]. Epilogue to R. Connell, Der gemachte Mann. Konstruktion und Krise von Mannlichkeiten (3rd ed., pp. 267-269) [trans. Masculinities]. Wiesbaden, Germany: VS Verlag.

Von Marschall, A., & Riesenfeld, V. (2007). Gleichstellung unter Medienbeschuss [Gender equality under media fire]. Switchboard, 180, 4-7.

Wilchins, R. A. (1997). Read my lips. Sexual subversion and the end of gender. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books.

Wilchins, R. A. (2004). Queer theory, gender theory. An instant printer. Los Angeles, CA: Alyson.



Research Institute at Men's Counseling Center Graz, Austria

(1) The method was developed by GenderWerkstatte [GenderLab], a working group of experts and trainers, founded in 2001 by the Austrian non-profit organizations, Men's Counseling Center Graz and Women's Service Graz. GenderWerkstatte is part of a European network for quality assurance in Gender Mainstreaming, see

Christian Scambor and Elli Scambor, Research Institute at Men's Counseling Center Graz, Austria. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Christian Scambor, Mannerberatung Graz / Research, Dietrichsteinplatz 15/8, A-8010 Graz, Austria. E-mail:
Table 1
Construction of Case Examples for Group Discussions

 Income relation

Level of household income Man earns more Woman earns more

 High a b
 Low c d

Note. Letters indicate case examples for the group discussions.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Men's Studies Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Scambor, Christian; Scambor, Elli
Publication:The Journal of Men's Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Previous Article:Some like them hot: how Germans construct male attractiveness.
Next Article:Gender role orientation and relational closeness: self-disclosive behavior in same-sex male friendships.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters