The Cost to Men of Societal Expectations: Male Burnout

  • The enduring “breadwinner ethos” describes the societal expectation that men need to prove their manhood through their performance at work. Malesic notes that “our society still largely equates masculinity with being a stoical wage earner.”
  • Stoicism, or emotional distancing, is coded as masculine and seen as a sign of professional competence in stereotypical cultural archetypes such as stern managers, hard-boiled police officers, or brusque physicians. The author notes that the fictional titular television character Ted Lasso is seen as funny and a bit silly because he defies the cultural masculine stereotypes as a positive and emotionally supportive soccer coach.
  • Men are less likely than women to talk about their problems. Men are 40 percent less likely than women to seek professional counseling for any reason. Men also have fewer friends to talk with and often do not have anyone, aside from a spouse or partner, they feel they can open up to.
  • Men are not prepared by society to share the burden of parenthood and do not see parenting as an integral part of being a man, according to a study on parenting conducted in Belgium. This factor could contribute to a high rate of burnout in fathers, who see their role of parenting conflicting with their breadwinner role.
  • 71 percent of Americans thought “being able to support a family” was important for a man to be a good husband, compared with 32 percent who said it was important for a woman to be a good wife.
  • 64 percent of adults aged eighteen to twenty-nine said breadwinning was important to be a good husband while 34 percent said it was important to be a good wife.

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Author of ‘New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together', OD Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Workshop Trainer

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Anne Litwin

Anne Litwin

Author of ‘New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together', OD Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Workshop Trainer