Christine Ro in BBC:
David Wyatt has worked in public relations for more than 20 years, having worked his way up to become a senior vice-president at an Austin, Texas-based firm. He recognises his privileges as a straight white man whose education was paid for. Yet even with all of his advantages, he believes his career has been impacted by a subtle bias: one against men who shun macho stereotypes, even in a field largely made up of women. His work style is gentle; he believes the adage about catching more flies with honey. And although he’s never been formally reprimanded or punished for his way of working, he believes that it’s meant he’s climbed the ladder more slowly than more traditionally masculine colleagues.
“I’ve had a lower profile than many of my other male colleagues who portray a sort of sportsman-like sharkiness in the business world. Many of them act more cutthroat in going after the big accounts whereas I have been more of an observer and a server,” reflects Wyatt. “For my entire career, the alpha-male types who make fun of co-workers as a matter of course, goof off but largely deliver, use denigrating terms for women and junior staffers and generally behave in a cocky manner have been advanced more quickly, been recognised more vocally.”
Wyatt is among others who believe men’s career trajectories can depend on how well they fit gendered preconceptions. How this plays out depends enormously on class and sector, of course – a surgeon will face different expectations than an oil worker – but, overall, there’s a great deal of research suggesting that men are disliked, distrusted and passed over when they exhibit qualities stereotypically assigned to women. As the pandemic has shifted so much of working life into homes and private spaces, it’s also important to consider how rigid gender norms hurt men, and how everyone can benefit from easing them.