“The research focuses on men in womens’- and equality movements as their participation has increased in grass roots movements among women,” says Þorgerður Einarsdóttir, Professor of gender studies on her study. Einarsdóttir says that great emphasis is put on male participation in public equality work; it is for example mandatory that men represent at least 40% in committees on equality. Male participation is, however, not a new phenomenon as men have participated and supported the struggle for equality right from the 19th century. Nonetheless, research is scarce in this field and thus scientific knowledge is limited.
The study is a collaborative project of Einarsdóttir and Arnar Gíslason, who have worked together in equality work for many years. The general point of view that “men’s participation in the equality struggle must increase is taken for granted, without any clear reasons why,” says Einarsdóttir. They want to study male participation in equality work and the motivation behind it in Iceland “as the gender struggle is very active here and there is a considerable number of men who participate in grassroots movements and public equality work. We interview both men and women about their key concerns, methods, and experiences.”
Einarsdóttir points out that according to masculinity studies men participate in equality work for different reasons; varying from supporting the struggle and women’s point-of-view to solely serving the interest of men’s rights.
The study will hopefully shed light on “whether men are marginalized in the struggle or whether they have perhaps gotten further than women? Is it possible that men meet a different and even more positive attitude in the gender struggle than women; for example in discussions on sensitive issues such as pornography and gender based violence?” asks Einarsdóttir.
The results will, according to Einarsdóttir, be important to the discussion of men’s participation in equality work. “The results will provide knowledge on what male participation in equality work means and whether, or to what extent, the result of their work contributes to the gender struggle. The results of this project can thus be used in the planning of equality work in the future,” concludes Einarsdóttir.