Jan 29, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The conversation about gender equality has been going on for generations, and -- given the onslaught of sexual assault allegations currently rocking the United States -- shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Now, some academics are calling for an unexpected demographic to add their voices to the mix, along with dedicated degree programs aimed at helping them be more informed and educated in doing so. We’re talking about men and masculinity studies. Here’s a closer look, as reported by CNN Money.

A Major in Masculinity?

Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, recently announced that it will debut an online master’s degree in masculinity beginning in 2019. And while women’s studies programs abound at universities, this will be the first of its kind. In fact, according to Michael Kimmel, the program’s creator and founder, while many colleges offer courses in men’s studies and masculinity, there are currently no dedicated degree programs in this field at either the undergraduate or graduate level on any campus in the country.

“I think we’ve become increasingly aware of the centrality of gender in people’s lives. We’re trying to make that gender conversation more visible for men,” Kimmel told CNN Money.

A Parallel Conversation

Topics the new degree will cover? How media representations affect men; boys’ and men’s development; and fatherhood, family arrangements and work-life balance. In addition to attracting teachers and psychologists, the degree is also expected to bring together activists and academics -- a productive pairing, says Kimmel.  "It gives the academics a sense of grounding in a much larger political movement. Now that, of course, is directly addressing the gender gap. That's the idea of it, is to see how people are addressing these kinds of issues around the world, what kind of projects they're developing and see how our research can help them,” he contends.

Wondering why an already-empowered group like men needs another platform? According to Kimmel, it promotes an important new perspective. “Privilege is invisible to those who have it,” he says.

Not only that, but men can be powerful “allies and stakeholders” if welcomed into the conversation. “Name one reform that women wanted, ever, that didn’t require men’s support,” proposes Kimmel.

Learn more about degrees in gender studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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