Hello everyone, my name is Francesco and today I will try to explain the current situation of equality between men and women in Italy, that is, the country where I live, which has made a lot of progress in recent years but who still finds it difficult to radically change his way of thinking because it could influence a large part of the country in a negative way.
Italy has always been a country whose mentality leans much more towards masculinity than towards femininity. Italian culture is strongly characterized (especially in the south of the country) by certain distinctive elements: a constant rigidity of models and gender contracts; demographic behaviors that are still somewhat “traditional” compared to other European contexts; the emphasis on the quality of intra-family care; a model of social protection based, more than others, on the rigidity of the gender system, on the moral obligation of family subsidiarity, on the indefinite extension of economic ties between generations, on the role of intergenerational female networks considered to be primarily responsible for care work. As can be understood, the survival of such a system depends on antithetical masculinity and femininity and traditional gender relations. But in Italy too, tensions and challenges have multiplied and now constitute a dense horizon of events for the hegemonic, patriarchal and unidirectional male model: think of the change in gender identities and life paths, especially those of women ; the processes of radical redefinition of the world of work (unemployment; temporary, irregular, low-income jobs); the increasing complexity of care needs; globalization and secularization; the encounter (sometimes forced) with new cultures and new masculinities (migrants, non-heterosexuals, transgenders, transsexuals); to the difficult but necessary confrontation with male genealogies and with the cumbersome misogynistic and male past; the challenge posed by the increasing complexity of paternal roles. It therefore becomes necessary to start changing the mentality that has remained almost unchanged over the years. Masculinity has clear points of view that could influence daily life in a positive way, these points are: competition, obsession with results and success and this value system begins in school and continues in organizational behavior . Italy has a “masculinity” score of 70/100 (Hofstede Insights, 2023). The upward trend in the Italian score therefore tells us that our country has a culture strongly oriented towards achievement and motivation. The competition, in particular, is seen as a very positive element. Indeed, we are taught from childhood the value of excellence, saluting models of success that are sometimes even artificial or difficult to reproduce. A nice car, a big house, a successful career have always been a recurring and coveted status symbol for us. Today, in Italy, the objective is to prepare new generations of men to meet “new” women and “new” models of masculinity. It is about opening up a wide range of avenues to enable children, boys and men to use a wider spectrum of their emotional and communicative abilities: showing, in other words, that there is a variety ways of being a man, allowing them to directly experience their own specific diversity. We are talking above all about the processes of reflection (and prevention) on the dark sides of masculinity: gender violence; homophobia; the limits imposed by stereotypical masculinity in the confrontation with women, sons, male genealogies, “other” masculinities; the difficult, sometimes non-existent dialogue between men and their own bodies. The reconstruction, through dialogue and mutual understanding, of the historical divide between male and female can have very positive effects. As far as companies are concerned, however, other aspects are worth analyzing. In “male” companies, there is a tendency to differentiate the “emotional roles” of men and women, whereas “female” companies emphasize the need for equality. Overall, organizations female-cultured are not as competitive as male-cultured ones. There are people who try to avoid conflict and who, as we have seen before, focus on the more social aspects rather than success, achievement, social status and quantifiable realities. In other words, in purely feminine cultures, there is a tendency to give importance to the quality of life, which we could call “whole”. If, on the other hand, we ask ourselves what is the most appropriate sex to occupy the position of manager within a company, it is necessary to take into consideration various factors, in the first place the cultural factor which influences almost entirely the distribution roles in a work environment. In more feminine cultures, the ideal leader (“manager hero”) is intuitive and seeks consensus and cooperation. In more masculine cultures, on the contrary, he is assertive, sure of himself and aggressive. This is also reflected in the concept of personal leadership: it is assumed that individuals belonging to a feminine culture develop a different set of cognitive and behavioral strategies than individuals belonging to a masculine culture and, in particular, that the way of thinking and to act first places more importance on subjective, intuition-oriented conditions (such as care, fulfillment, and relationships). In other words, although both may be interested in improving their performance at work, individuals from a male culture are more likely to practice self-direction with material rewards in mind, while individuals from women’s cultures will mainly take into consideration the relational component. For example, one could think about how cultural differences may affect selection processes, leadership suitability, welfare and performance appraisal systems, as well as new compensation policies or contractual conditions that affect a balance (think home-work balance) that is very deeply rooted in the worker. But what I hope will improve over the next few years is certainly education in schools, where modesty and the need to maintain privacy lead girls and boys to seek outside family answers to their doubts and curiosities. It seems in fact that it is people outside the family (often friends, the group of peers) who are the privileged “vectors” of information on sexuality, which is however very often inaccurate, distorted or in any case insufficient. Young people therefore approach the discovery of sexuality often without preparation and without information and find themselves managing crucial moments in their life course on their own.
In France, unlike Italy, there is much more equality between men and women, which has a positive influence on the whole country, which sees the advantages (apart from the political situation). In addition, we are beginning to get rid of false myths still present in Italy and sometimes maintained by women themselves, such as the fact that women are not fit to drive or that they are more reckless than men. All this with a study that shows that in France, 8 out of 10 road accident victims (78%) are men because many men learn from childhood that they can “defend their virility” by driving. This is why one of the latest advertising campaigns concerning road safety in France begins with the idea that toxic masculinity could be a factor contributing to road fatalities in the same way as speed, alcohol, drugs and sleep. The campaign video shows new fathers minutes after the birth of their children, portraying them as caring and sensitive, in contrast to the exalted “masculinity” of male stereotypes. The campaign should encourage men to examine their behavior, without wanting to stigmatize or blame them. “That does not mean that all men are bad drivers: that would not be true. But the number of men dying on the roads is a serious problem. And it is society that sends the message that men must drive faster, try to “dominate” the road and take more risks. Many men learn from childhood that by driving they can “defend their manhood”. But that’s not all: the idea that boys and men are instinctively very familiar with cars can lead to the idea that men “know how to drive”, and give them overconfidence in dangerous situations. “It can feel like a man has to prove to himself that he’s in control of a vehicle, for example by accelerating or exceeding speed limits to prove he’s a real man. Just think of the number of men who resent the idea of being overtaken by another car.
I hope you enjoyed this explanation and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on the subject or on a possible internship, perhaps even in Italy, which remains a beautiful country full of quality and perfect for young people who want to try an experience abroad.