HoW College and Gender Equality
As a College, we endeavour to provide all individuals within our community with the same opportunities irrespective of age, race, or gender. HoW College is a welcoming, inclusive, and accepting organisation, in which we believe possibilities are truly limitless.
We aim to empower and educate all individuals who join our community and hope to encourage each person to find their voice and embrace who they are as a person. Our goal is to assist the future generations in learning who they are, what makes them unique, and to instil in them that they deserve equal and equitable treatment. Factors such as gender should never be a limit to what someone can achieve in life. Here at HoW College, the only elements of a person we will ever make judgements on are their passion, determination, integrity, and acceptance and respect towards others.
To encourage celebration of gender equality, we run campaign weeks throughout the year. This allows those within our community to share their successes, trials and tribulations, as well as give an insight into what they’ve experienced in educational, employment, and social situations. We also highlight important information surrounding gender-based health (physical and mental) and gender specific stereotypes and stigmas. This is to help equip those within our community to identify inequality, report it, and look after themselves in day-to-day life. Our Fearless Females week takes place every March to encompass International Women’s Day, and our Magnificent Males week takes place every November to encompass International Men’s Day and Movember.
Below, we’ve taken the time to source some helpful definitions you may come across when looking into gender equality. All definitions have been sourced from the World Health Organisation (WHO) unless stated otherwise.
This term refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female, as well as the relationships and relations between women, men, girls and boys. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialisation processes; they are therefore context/time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed, and valued in a female or a male in each context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between females and males in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities.
Please note gender and sex are related to but different from gender identity. Sex refers to the different biological and physiological characteristics of females, males and intersex persons. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal and individual experience of gender which may or may not correspond to the person’s physiology or designated sex at birth.
This term refers to beliefs about women, men, boys and girls, that are passed from generation to generation through the process of socialisation. They change over time and differ in different cultures and populations. Gender norms lead to inequality if they reinforce: a) mistreatment of one group or sex over the other; b) differences in power and opportunities.
The images, beliefs, attitudes or assumptions about certain groups of females and males. Stereotypes are usually negative and based on assumed gender norms, roles and relations.
(According to Britannica) - the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.
(According to Britannica) - prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender, especially against women and girls.
This term refers to equal chances or opportunities for groups of females and males to access and control social, economic, and political resources, including protection under the law (such as health services, education and voting rights). Gender equality is often used interchangeably with gender equity, but the two refer to different, complementary strategies.
This term describes the process of ignoring gender norms, roles, and relations and very often reinforces gender-based discrimination. By ignoring differences in opportunities and resource allocation for women and men, such policies are often assumed to be “fair” as they claim to treat everyone the same.
This term refers to any distinction, exclusion, or restriction (such as unfair or unequal treatment) made based on gender norms, roles, and relations that prevent females and males of different groups and ages from enjoying their human rights. It perpetuates gender inequality by legitimising stereotypes about males and females of different ages and groups.
(According to the Cambridge English Dictionary) - ideas about the way that men and boys should behave that are seen as harmful, for example the idea that males should not cry or admit weakness. Toxic masculinity defines manhood very narrowly in terms of violence, sex, status and aggression. For example:
- The idea that “men are just naturally violent” is a manifestation of toxic masculinity
- Being gay is a negative and not ‘masculine’
- Flowers, poetry, art etc. are all for girls and not boys
This term refers to the different needs, preferences and interests of females and males. This may mean that different treatment is needed to ensure equality of opportunity. This is often referred to as substantive equality (or equality of results) and requires considering the realities of women’s and men’s lives.
This term explains what males and females are expected to do (in the household, community and workplace) in each society.
A multidimensional social process that enables people to gain control over their lives. Strategies for empowerment therefore often challenge existing power allocations and relations to give disadvantaged groups more power. With respect to women and girls health, empowerment has often meant, for example, increasing education opportunities and access to relevant information to enable females to make informed decisions about their health, improve self-esteem, and equip them with communication and negotiation skills. Such skills are known to influence, for example, safer sex practices, treatment adherence, and timely health-seeking behaviour.
(According to the Cambridge English Dictionary) - a term which describes a point after which you cannot go any further, usually in improving your position at work. This limit is usually unofficial and affects women; for example, a female being unable to become CEO of a company due to the opinion a male would be more suited due to gender stereotypes.
Male and Female Stereotypes and Stigmas
When looking at gender equality, you are likely to encounter stereotypes, stigmas, and microaggressions. A stereotype refers to a widely held, fixed (and often simplified) image or idea about a particular person or entity; for example, women are better at cooking and cleaning than men. A stigma on the other hand refers to a negative implication associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person; for example, males who seek mental health support are weak and unstable. Both a stereotype and a stigma can be implemented in a blatant/discreet and deliberate manner, but they can also appear through microaggressions. A microaggression is an act, statement, or incident which can cause indirect (and sometimes unintentional) discrimination against a marginalised group. Whereas people can deliberately try to promote inequality in a covert/subtle manner, a lot of microaggressions are typically as a result of ignorance and therefore unintentional. An example of a microaggression could be expecting the male to pay for the first date. You may adopt this expectation due to beliefs you were taught growing up/ learnt in social settings and you may not wish to cause any offence or harm, or you may not even see anything wrong with such beliefs. However, such attitudes reinforce gender stereotypes and stigmas which can cause pressure to behave in a given manner, due to fear of being labelled negatively if you fail to meet the expectation at hand. So, in this example, a male who doesn’t pay for the first date may be labelled as cheap and feeble.
Men, women, girls and boys will often all experience inequalities socially, professionally and within romantic relationships at some point throughout life. Such inequalities and the consequences that follow tend to differ between genders, and often a disadvantage for one gender results in an advantage for the other.
Many social inequalities can stem from gender norms and gender roles, which differ from generation to generation and from culture to culture. In many cultures however, women are still often seen as the primary carers and men as the provider. This often results in the following beliefs:
- Women should stay home to look after the children
- Men should be the main provider for the family financially
- Women should look after the house/property
- Men should protect the women and children (emotionally, physically and financially)
- Women who have a job/career aren’t as devoted mothers
- Men should have a career in something ‘manly’
As well as said beliefs, the following stereotypes/stigmas are often implemented in social settings:
- Men should enjoy sports and manly hobbies; those who enjoy things like poetry, dancing, art etc. are often seen as feeble and not masculine enough
- Women should enjoy creative and caring hobbies; those who enjoy things like sports, engineering, manual labour etc. are often seen as butch/masculine and not feminine enough
- Men should wear dark/neutral colours; those who wear colours such as pink or patterns must be feminine
- Women should wear bright colours; those who wear dark colours and patterns are not feminine enough
- Men should not wear skirts or dresses; women should mostly wear skirts or dresses to make them look ‘pretty’
- Men shouldn’t wear makeup; women should wear makeup
- Men shouldn’t spend too much time on their appearance; women should spend a lot of time on their appearance
- Men should highlight their physical attributes; women should cover their bodies and save them just for their partner
- Men should not have to cook and clean; women should be able to cook and clean to make a good wife/partner
- Men should decide when to have a baby; women should be the only ones to decide whether to keep or abort a pregnancy
- Men should propose to a woman; if a woman proposes then the man is weak
- Men should not show/talk about emotions; women always show/talk about emotions
- Men and women shouldn’t be friends with opposite genders; the only individual from the opposite gender you should associate with is your partner
- It’s acceptable for men to have several sexual partners and is deemed impressive; the more sexual partners a woman has had, the more of a ‘slut’ she is
- Men should pay for the first date/all dates otherwise they are less manly or ‘cheap’; women shouldn’t have to pay for the first date/any dates, if they do or if they share the bill they are ‘dominating’
There are unfortunately many more gender stereotypes than those on the list above, which both genders can experience and receive negative repercussions for. In some cultures, males and females may adopt such beliefs and be content with that way of life; however, it is important to remember it is up to you to decide what you feel is acceptable treatment for you to receive. Only you can set your own boundaries; likewise, it isn’t your place to tell someone else what their role or behaviour should be, or what treatment they should deserve based on their gender.
Within the workplace, both males and females can be negatively effective by gender stereotypes and stigmas. For example, a female may be hired as a nursery teacher over a male due to the stereotype that females are better with children and are more nurturing; this is therefore unfair for males as an opportunity is being withheld from them due to their gender, and not due to qualifications or ability. Similarly, a male may be hired as an engineering teacher in a high school due to the stigma that a female won’t be as smart in that given subject as engineering is stereotypically a male-dominated industry; this is therefore unfair for females as again an opportunity is being withheld from them due to their gender, not due to qualifications or ability. Such inequalities can also be transferred into internal promotion opportunities; one gender may experience preferential treatment as a result of gender stereotypes.
There are also other inequalities which can occur in the workplace, such as unequal pay, sexual harassment, and holding/implementing sexist views towards employees. It is incredibly important to understand that both males and females can experience any of these forms of inequality; however, there are certain situations which unfortunately will predominantly affect women more than men.
For example, women may face maternity discrimination; this is when a female may not be employed/promoted due to fear of them getting pregnant, where a female may already be pregnant and is denied reasonable time off of work, where a pregnant woman may be fired, demoted or prevented from other opportunities due to being pregnant, or any other negative employment action taken due to pregnancy.
Another example is sexist remarks, comments or implementation of sexist views; again, this can be experience by both males and females, however women often experience this differently. For example, a female employee may be assumed as weak (mentally, physically or emotionally) in comparison to a male counterpart. Likewise genders often receive verbal insults when behaving in a similar manner to the opposite gender; a female may behave in the same manner which is stereotypically attributed to a male leader (assertive, strong willed, and confident), but instead gets portrayed as bossy, controlling, and aggressive/emotional. Similarly, if a male behaves in a manner which is stereotypically attributed to a female (non-confrontational, supportive, and kind), they may be portrayed as weak, sensitive, and feckless/incompetent.
It’s important to be able to identify such inequalities as the implementation of stereotypes, stigmas, gender norms or gender roles can lead to financial disadvantages in life, as well as a loss in employment growth or opportunities.
As seen in the above sections regarding social and professional inequalities, many of these can be transferred into relationships. Whether the relationship be platonic or romantic, gender inequality can often appear in a relationship as a result of cultural, generational, and institutionalised beliefs.
For example, a male may experience the pressures of having to pay for romantic dates, having to be the one to initiate relationships (asking someone out, proposing etc.), or feeling as though they need to be able to physically protect their partner and defend them.
On the other hand, females may experience the pressures of having to dress/behave in a certain manner to appear ‘feminine’, being expected to maintain a home (cleaning, cooking etc.), or feeling as though they should not ask a male on a date/pay for a date/propose to a man due to potentially emasculating them. Such inequalities can vary in extremity. In some cultures, arranged marriages are still expected of women, along with the right for a man to impregnate a woman whenever he chooses. In other cultures, men must be expected to be able to physically fight, financially provide for a partner (and children), and being feminine, non-heterosexual, or showing weakness, can warrant being ostracised and outcast.
As mentioned above, it is important to remember it is up to you to decide what you feel is acceptable treatment for you to receive, be it within a romantic, platonic or familial relationship. Only you can set your own boundaries; likewise, it isn’t your place to tell someone else what their role or behaviour should be, or what treatment they should deserve based on their gender.
How to Report Gender Inequality
Click the drop down buttons below to see how to report gender inequality you may come across in different scenarios. You can also find further support resources for males, females, and reporting hate crimes.
When in School/College
Does it feel like the situation could get heated or violent very soon? Is someone in immediate danger? Do you need support right away? If so, call the Police on 999 or if you're deaf or hard of hearing, contact the Police textphone service using 18000.
Inequality in the Media
Should you see/hear any form of sexism/gender inequality within advertisement, online platforms or on TV, identify the responsible organisation (for example, the BBC) and follow their complaints procedure. Bodies such as Ofcom can also be utilised to report such behaviour.
Reporting hate crimes via True Vision - Click Here
Domestic abuse against Men (support and advice) via Men's Advice Line - Click Here
Domestic abuse against Women and Children (support and advice) via Refuge - Click Here
Domestic abuse support via Victim Support - Click Here (this website has a series of situation-specific support links located at the bottom of the page)