We Need More Men in the Humanities
Around the turn of the millennium, American society realized a looming crisis: the lack of female representation in STEM fields. But today we are witnessing a crisis of male leadership in a variety of workplaces. From the president to CEOs of major companies to actors and power players in Hollywood, the past several months have exposed the toxic work environments they preside over or worsen in scandal after scandal. Though different in nature, this crisis is of equal importance as the STEM shortage. Yet, to date, no prominent solutions or interventions have been seriously proposed. In contrast, a quick Google search brings up dozens of programs for girls in STEM, but not one national program appears for boys in the arts and humanities.
latest indicators of the demographics and earnings of public school humanities teachers — most of whom are women and many of whom aren’t paid well — underscore that we need more men in the arts and humanities.
The Humanities Indicators report that, “As of 2015, women earned 61 percent of all master’s and professional-practice degrees in the humanities and 54 percent of the doctoral degrees in the field.” And the latest report on public school teachers found that “76 percent of humanities teachers were women, the largest share among subject specialists.” When male K-12 role models barely exist in these disciplines, what message does that send to our young boys and men?
You may have heard of Girls Who Code, the National Girls Collaborative Project, the National Math and Science Initiative, the Women in Engineering Proactive Network or the Million Women Mentors. Those programs are increasing the number of STEM graduates over all and injecting some much-needed diversity into the fields.
But our society suffers when boys and men are actively discouraged from pursuing their interests in the arts and humanities. The cycle of toxic masculinity starts early. Boys are often told not to cry or show emotion. They are socially trained to repress it, and they take pride in this false resilience.
the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. In an annual event called “Cops and Docs,” accomplished medical professionals and highly trained police officers take a group trip to the museum. Over the course of the evening, mixed groups of cops and docs look at paintings, sculptures and other works of art, and they then share their answers to a pretty basic question: What do you see?
Another program, “The Art of Perception,” takes police detectives, FBI agents and high-ranking Secret Service and CIA executives to well-known museums and galleries like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection to observe works by Picasso, Caravaggio, Edward Hopper and other masters. Program creator Amy E. Herman says the exercise is “not about looking at art. It’s about talking about what you see.”
4Humanities, a nonprofit concerned with the role and perception of the humanities in public. For more information, please see: http://www.christinehenseler.com or http://4humanities.org/.
more on male students in this IMS blog