Career Advice

Young Men Have a Lot to Learn About Discrimination

Lisa Johnson Posted by Lisa
min read
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Firstly, I have to say…if you are going to interview a group of 23 – 24 year old university students in a pub, you are going to get some bawdy answers to your questions.  There is nothing like the comradeship of your peers with beer to loosen the tongue and let sheer crap come out.  

We know this is true, we have all been there. So statistically, interviewing a few boys lubricated with alcohol, isn’t likely to give you a reasoned survey result.  This is why, the ABS doesn’t just send surveyors to the pub at Census time to collect data (although if I had to knock on doors and get the garrulous, the weird and the wonderful to answer their census forms, I would be at the pub too). But regardless, this person decided to do that…she wanted to know if young blokes in Australia think like their American counterparts and think that women should be at home raising babies.  

I know, I know, its click bait but I couldn’t help but read it.  And then I kind of wanted to go to the closest pub, find any bloke under 25 and smack him upside his head, but this is an overreaction to the wild ramblings of a small group of middle class entitled young men, who I truly suspect have grown up being told that they can have it all, and that they are very special. And I am old enough and smart enough to know that the writer could have very well taken some of their comments out of context just to write a more interesting piece. But what is interesting is that I have heard the argument before.  My ex husband used to say that one of the greatest pressures on wages and job opportunities in Australia was the increase of women in the workforce – as we were effectively ‘taking’ jobs from men.  Yes, there is a reason he is my ex husband.  But perhaps there is something to the argument – after all if there are more ‘people’ in the workforce, clearly there has to be more competition for promotional opportunities.  So it makes sense that men feel that they find it harder to progress in their careers.  

Because it’s a bit tough when you have to compete against those smart girls. What makes things murkier for those poor fragile wee men at university, is that more women have completed tertiary qualifications then men in the past few years.  

According to this article, in 2014, 45,000 more women completed tertiary qualifications than men.  

This does not mean that there are more smart women than men.  It just means that more women are completing high school and going onto higher education and once there, actually completing it than men.  

So you can imagine these young blokes, all filled with ambition and a desire to be powerful, sitting there in the lecture theatre, surrounded by equally ambitious and talented women and feeling, well, outnumbered.  A bit threatened.  A bit baffled.  Bless their little 100% cotton socks. The saddest part about this story, is that I don’t believe that their feelings of being hard done by is reflective of society over all.  You see these boys believe that they will have the kinds of careers that will give them the financial freedom to have a stay at home wife.  

Clearly, they haven’t tried to buy a house in Sydney.  

For the majority of hard working, diligent, intelligent men in Australia, the choice to have a stay at home wife is a luxury that is out of reach.  

Regardless of whether the man or woman would like the option to stay at home, financial pressures make it impossible. Which makes resentment towards women who work or demand for equal pay rather pointless. The cynic in me knows that these blokes, if their careers pan out the way they want, will likely marry and have a stay at home wife.  If, for no other reason, than he is never home and doesn’t share in the nightmare of after school sports practice runs, school bake sales, P&C meetings, music lessons or extramural tutoring,  Leaving his wife running ragged in an unpaid, thankless job that nobody seems to appreciate as much as they should.  And the cynic in me says one day they will realise they have nothing in common, nothing to talk about and he will be flirting madly with a female colleague, who stimulates him ‘intellectually’.  

OK, this is a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason. And in the meantime, those ambitious, intelligent, hardworking young women finishing university and entering the workforce, will do so on lower money than their male peers.  

They will find it harder to get promotions because of the unconscious bias that many employers have towards anybody capable of popping out babies and wanting some time off.  Some may even have to make the decision to never have kids, because whilst a man with children is an appealing employee, a woman continues to be a liability. So young men are resentful against positive discrimination.  

They don’t think it’s fair when there are quotas on courses for women and they don’t think they should have to apologise for their resentment. They have a lot to learn about discrimination, these boys.