Discrimination against men is the unfair treatment of men based on gender. In the workforce it has been observed in the health and education sectors due to stereotypes that men are dangerous to women and children. In the legal system, men on average receive higher rates of incarceration and longer sentences than women for similar crimes.

Discrimination against men has little research and is discussed little due to cultural bias. Equality measures often pay little or no attention to men, and discrimination against women is perceived as morally worse than discrimination against men.


There is limited research about discrimination against men in the workplace, and the OECD often does not consider men when measuring gender equality. Eurofound's European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) in 2015 showed that 1% of men and 3.1% of women had perceived discrimination in the past 12 months.[1] Discrimination against men in regards to hiring typically happens in occupations which have the gender role of being feminine.[2] Discrimination against men in female-dominated workplaces is more prevalent than discrimination against women in male-dominated workplaces.[3] Employers may consider that men taking time off means that they are not committed to their job, whereas women taking time off is considered normal. Discrimination can also take the form of stricter dress codes for men.[4]

In 2006 researchers of the English labour market sent out CVs with equal qualifications, ages and experience and concluded that the feminine gender role job of secretaries discriminated against men with hiring, but the study also found 'mixed occupations' with discrimination against men: trainee chartered accountants and computer analyst programmers.[2] Some believe that this may be due to affirmative action.[1]

According to the Observatory of Inequalities, in France men are put under more pressure in work and expected to work long hours and full time. Men are also have higher rates of accidents. They called this 'reverse sexism'.[1]

In a study published in 2019, researchers looked at gender discrimination in 134 countries, and claimed that in 91 (68%) of those countries, men were more disadvantaged than women. They argued that the Global Gender Gap measure was flawed as weightings often did not include situations where men are disadvantaged, and due to a low level of research about men. They based their claim about more men being disadvantaged due to levels that disproportionately affect men and boys, such as receiving harsher punishments than the same crimes of women, overrepresentation in the homeless and prison population, compulsory military service (both in the present and living history), higher levels of suicide, higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse, more occupational deaths, underperformance in education, being overrepresented in dangerous jobs, and experiencing higher rates of physical assault.[5]

People have a more negative attitude toward discrimination against women when hiring than to discrimination against men.[6] People are also more concerned about the shortage of women in occupations dominated by men (usually STEM) than the shortage of men in fields dominated by women (such as healthcare and education). Men are often sanctioned in the form of condemnation and ridicule for their interest in traditionally feminine professions.[7] Writing in Frontiers in Psychology, psychologist Francesca Manzi points out that in such cases, discrimination against men is often not recognised, which may be due to traditional gender attitudes that prohibit men from traditionally feminine behaviour.[8]


Discrimination against men has been described in the healthcare sector due to gender stereotypes and prejudice.[9] In a study of male nurses educators, discrimination was described as a common practice. It included rejection from patients, rejection to support career prospects from hospital management, and having to pay their own expenses during education where female students received stipends. Negative experiences of male nurses included rejection, discrimination, accusations from patients and families; harassment and lack of support from female colleagues, managers, and educators.[10][11]

After the 'feminisation of nursing' in the 19th century, it became socially inappropriate for males to provide intimate care for female patients, such as inserting a catheter. It was also theorised that men were not fit for nursing because the rough hands of men were "not fitted to touch, bathe and dress wounded limbs". Some people view that male nurses do not confirm to the traditional gender stereotyped role that women are the caretakers, and many consider nursing to be a women-only profession.[9]

In 2006, a male nurse won a discriminatory case against the National Health Service which refused to let him perform procedures on women without a female chaperone. Female nurses did not have this rule.[12]


Compared to identical women, male elementary school teachers are perceived as having a greater safety threat to children, less likeable and less hirable.[11]

A 2016 survey on the education workplace in Denmark found that 64% of men compared to 39% of women had rules to stop them from sexually assaulting the children, the most common being closing doors while changing nappies. It also found that 10% of men compared to 3% of women were not allowed to be with the children alone and 17% of men reported that there were rules for men only in their workplace. 35% of men and 24% of women had rules constraining physical contact with children, such as kissing and hugging. The survey also reported that 50% of men compared to 15% of women restrained from doing certain activities with children in fear of suspicion of inappropriate conduct. This included not having a baby on their lap, not changing nappies and not kissing a child.[9][13][1]

50/50 recruitment

In 2021, the Crime and Corruption Commission of Queensland, Australia, said that due to the Police's strategy on 50/50 recruitment, 200 male candidates were discriminated against. They said that women ineligible for the applied position were selected over men who were eligible.[14]

Affirmative action

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Philosopher David Benatar argues that one of the key injustices of affirmative action is that giving women from more prosperous racial groups (who have almost the same opportunities as their brothers, attending the best schools and receiving additional education) the same advantages as representatives of disadvantaged racial groups (attending the worst schools and unable to hire tutors), leads to an unjustified bias in favor of white women compared to all others.[15]: 213  According to Benatar, affirmative action by gender, which provides benefits to some members of a group in response to past discrimination against other members of that group, does not correct the injustice, but instead recreates it anew. The argument appealing to discrimination against women in the past is refuted, for example, by the fact that proponents of affirmative action on the basis of gender would not call up only women for military service in countries where men in the past bore the brunt of military service, or disproportionately many women in those countries where military service is maintained exclusively for men.[15]: 216 

As for the arguments in defense of affirmative action, which point to discrimination against women in the present, from Benatar's point of view, they are often based on double standards: in particular, proponents of affirmative action on the basis of gender claim that a large representation of men in desirable positions is discrimination against women, but they never say that a large representation of men in undesirable positions is associated with discrimination against men.[15]: 219–220  Those who support affirmative action in favor of women never come to the conclusion that men are unfairly discriminated against, accounting for more than half of those who are imprisoned or executed, or more than half of those who drop out of school or die at work.[15]: 218 


Historically men received more education than women, but in recent years women have outnumbered men in tertiary education in almost all countries.[16]

A study looking at children born in the 1980s in the United States until their adulthood found that boys with behavioural problems were less likely to complete high school and university than girls with the same behavioural problems. Boys had more exposure to negative experiences and peer pressure, and had higher rates of grade repetition. Owens, who conducted the study, attributes this to negative stereotypes about boys and says that this may partially explain the gender gap in education.[17]

People are also less likely to assist males falling behind in grades that females.[18]

Grading bias

Multiple studies have shown grading bias against boys, regardless of the examiner's sex. In these studies, examiners were provided no information about the students apart from their name. This includes a 2004 study in Israel where 9 subjects; in the arts, sciences and mathematics were tested.[16] A 2020 study of junior high schools in Sweden conducted a similar study, estimating a bias against boys of 23% of a standard deviation.[19] Biasses have also been found in Portuguese and French high schools, and a study of 15-year-olds in Czechia, and in Italy.[20]

A study looking at the perceptions of students by their teachers found that teachers perceive girls as having higher "Persistence, Mood, and [educational competence]" and boys having higher levels of "Activity, Distractibility, Inhibition, and Negative Emotionality".[21]


Due to gender behavioured norms which many schools enforce, boys receive on average higher rates of suspension, expulsion and retention than girls with the same behaviours. This begins in preschool.[17]


In many universities there are scholarships for women only, often known as women's scholarships. These have been described as illegal under Title IX and discriminatory against men, causing the United States Department of Education to launch multiple investigations around the country.[22]

In a study of 220 universities in the United States, 84% of them offered single-gender scholarships. The study described the universities as discriminatory if there are 4 or more women-only scholarships compared to men-only, and described 68.5% of the universities as discriminatory against men.[23] People pushing to get these removed have mentioned that these scholarships were created in the 1970s when women were under-represented in tertiary education, but it is now men who underperform and that the scholarships should become gender-neutral.[24][25]

In 2008 the Human Rights Commission of New Zealand considered abolishing women's scholarships.[26]

Law and legal system


In 2022 the European Court of Human Rights found that the Swiss government discriminates against men. Women whose husbands die receive a pension for the rest of their lives whereas men only receive a pension if they have children under the age of 18. The law is expected to be rewritten.[27]

In Cyprus, men cannot receive the pension of a dead person, but women can.[1]

Between 1940 and 1991 in the United Kingdom, the pension age was different for men and women. It was 65 for men and 60 for women, although this has now changed.[28] This also had an effect on bus free passes where women previously could get them at a younger age than men.[29][30]

Retirement age

The retirement age in many countries is lower for women than for men. This has been criticised because generally women have a higher life expectancy and because ,even if the retirement age was equal, men have less time in retirement.[5] This included Switzerland where the retirement age for men was 65 whereas the retirement age was 64 for women.[31] The retirement age for women increased to 65 in 2022.[32] In a few countries however, the effective age of labour market exit for men is lower than for women, such as Spain, Finland and France.[5]

Incarceration and sentencing

Further information: Sentencing disparity

In the United Kingdom, United States, and France, women who commit crimes are less likely to be arrested, and sent to court than men.[33] Males arrested for murder are six times more likely to face the death penalty than females arrested for murder. Many scholars have suggested that this is due to chivalric beliefs.[34]

A study in France of sentences between 2000 and 2003 found that women who committed comparable offenses to men received prison sentences that were 33% shorter. The study suggested that the gender gap is caused by the gender of the judge, rather than the prosecutor.[33] A 2015 study in the England and Wales found that males were 88% more likely than females to be sent for prison after committing similar crimes. This sex difference varies between crimes. The study found that there was a 35% difference from shoplifting or non-motor theft, and a 362% difference for offences relating to drug trade and production.[35] A 2014 study in American Law and Economics Review found that in the United States, men receive 63% longer sentences than women on average, saying that "women are also significantly likelier to avoid charges and convictions, and twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted".[36] Women of all races in the United States receive shorter sentences than men.[37]

An analysis of the criminal practice of various countries revealed the existence of discrimination against men in criminal and penal enforcement law. In an extensive study of criminal practice in New Zealand, it was revealed that male criminals are more likely than female criminals to receive real sentences instead of suspended ones, and it was proved that it is the gender of the defendants that influences sentencing, including taking into account other factors such as criminal record. Judges tend to explain the criminal actions of women by social factors, to find mitigating circumstances in them. UK courts systematically impose lower penalties on women for theft, explaining their concern for their children. This argument is used even when mitigating the punishment of childless women. A similar situation in the United States was recognised by the Ministry of Justice. In Finland, according to the database of the state research institute Optula, men receive longer sentences for similar crimes than women and are less likely to be sentenced to probation.[38]


In multiple countries rape is defined with penetrative sex, which means that by law, men cannot be raped as they are being forced to penetrate. This includes New Zealand,[39] England and Wales,[40] the Philippines,[41] and Switzerland.[42]


During 2013, the New Zealand Labour Party proposed banning men from candidate selections to reach 50% women in parliament. It was later scrapped after criticism that it was undemocratic.[43][44]


Domestic violence

Main article: Domestic violence against men

In a study looking at male victims of female-perpetrated domestic violence in Australia, victims reported that support services responded to them with ridicule, doubt, arresting the victims,[45] and refusal by police to listen to their side of the story.[46][47] Female-on-male is considered by society as less serious than male-on-female violence,[45] and domestic violence studies and measures often exclusively take account for women.[45][48][49]

In a study of psychologists in 2004, they found that psychologists rated that the actions of husbands were more likely to be psychologically abusive and more severe than wives who committed the same actions.[50]

Violence against men

Main article: Violence against men

In the United States, crime statistics since 1976 show that men make up the majority (74.9%) of victims in murders.[51] A study in 2023 found that people—especially women—are less likely to accept violence against women than violence against men.[52] Discrimination also leads to the fact that men who are victims of violence do not show empathy.[53][54][clarification needed]

Discrimination against LGBT men

Main article: Discrimination against gay men

Male homosexuality is criminalised or prosecuted in more jurisdictions than female homosexuality. There were at least 30 countries in 2002 where male homosexuality was illegal, but in no countries was female homosexuality illegal.[15][55] Gay men are much more likely than lesbians to become victims of hate crimes. In 2008 the FBI's hate crime statistics show that 58.6% of crimes based on sexual orientation were motivated against gay men, whereas 12% were motivated against lesbians.[15] Gay men face greater difficulties in adopting children than lesbians, even in countries where same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children.[15]

As gender researcher M. Holleb points out, transgender men face a specific kind of discrimination based on the position that trans men are actually women. This discrimination includes the invisibility of trans men in society.[56] Researcher E. C. Krell writes about the existence of a racialized transmisandry faced by transgender men of colour living in an atmosphere of strict control over black masculinity.[57]


Military and criminal violence, suicides and industrial accidents are factors that contribute to the reduction of men's life expectancy. The frequency of fatal cases of violence against men and the greater tolerance for violence against men largely explain why men, as a rule, live much less than women. In almost all countries of the world, men are also more likely than women to commit suicide. In the West and in Western Asian countries, the suicide rate among men is at least twice as high as among women, and sometimes the gap is even greater. Men also make up the majority of victims of fatal industrial accidents. In the United States, the death rate at work among men is about ten times higher than among women. Although women account for 43% of the hours worked for wages in the United States, they account for only 7% of accidents at work. The situation is worse in Canada, where men account for about 95% of workplace fatalities. In this country, the number of workplace deaths among men is about 10.4 per 100,000, while the corresponding figure among women is 0.4 per 100,000. In Taiwan, men account for about 93% of workplace fatalities.[15]: 59 

Mental health

Much of mental health research is focussed on women instead of men, which has caused scholars to describe problems faced by men as a 'silent epidemic', an 'invisible crisis', or a 'quiet catastrophe'. Men comprise between 75% and 80% of deaths by suicide, and around three quarters of those with substance use disorders. Despite this, only around 30% of people who use mental health services are men.[58]

Literature on men's mental health has been described by multiple scholars as using an approach that is narrowly focussed that borders on victim blaming, unlike the studies on women's mental health. These often focus on mental health issues being caused by 'masculinity' and the attitudes and behaviours of men rather than "acknowledging a highly complex web of causation". This includes the World Health Organization, who have encouraged 'programmes with men and boys that include deliberate discussions of gender and masculinity'. Scholars have criticised that focussing on masculinity 'blam[es] the victim; undervalu[es] positive male traits; and alienat[es] men in whom we seek to instil healthy behaviours'.[58]

Mental health advertising has been criticised by scholars for blaming men for their mental health issues. For example, the United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have made campaigns with the slogan "this year thousands of men will die from stubbornness". The Australian mental health campaign, Beyond Blue have written "Men are known for bottling things up".[58]

Male genital mutilation

Main article: Male genital mutilation

Male genital mutilation, or circumcision, is a common practise in the United States but is not common in other countries.[citation needed]

Gender researcher David Benatar argues that although male genital mutilation in itself is not discriminatory, there are still several significant aspects of circumcision that can be characterized as discriminatory — among them he refers to the lack of anaesthesia when circumcising boys.[15]: 43  He also writes about the contrast when Western society ignores the painful circumcision of boys with the removal of the entire foreskin and at the same time extremely negatively perceives minimally invasive forms of manipulation with the genitals of teenage girls (for example, a symbolic incision of the clitoris without removing any vulva tissues in Somali girls in the USA, which served as an alternative to traditional circumcision).[15]: 44–45 


Less than 10 percent of scientific studies about parents or parenting include fathers, and books about parenting almost exclusively focus on the mother. In an interview of 49 single fathers, they said that they perceived that society does not recognise their status as a single parent. Writing in the Family Law Quarterly journal, Jerry W. McCant says that society makes little or no effort to teach boys the social skills of nurturing. She described men as apart from their financial contributions, a 'disposable parent', due to society's belief that women are better equipped for parenting and that fathers are not considered parents.[59]

It is more difficult for gay men to adopt children than for lesbians, even in countries where same-sex adoption is legal.[15]: 54 

Gender studies

Discrimination against men has little research due to cultural bias.[1] The Global Gender Gap Index has been criticised for only including disadvantages that disproportionately affect women, meaning that the index cannot measure when men are disadvantaged.[5] It also does not penalise countries where girls outperform boys in education for example, treating it as if the genders were equal.[60]


Several studies have shown that people judge discrimination against women as morally worse than discrimination against men.[6] People also have less of a concern about the under-representation of men in healthcare, early-education and domestic careers than the under-representation of women in STEM.[61]

Due to the attribution error of the gender group, the negative behaviour shown by representatives of both sexes is perceived as characteristic and typical only for men. People tend to attribute negative intra-group female behaviour to environmental variables, while negative extra-group male behaviour is attributed solely to personal characteristics.[62]

Researchers Alice Eagly and Antonio Mladinik introduced the women-are-wonderful effect in 1994 after they found that both men and women tend to attribute positive traits to women, with women showing a much more pronounced bias. Positive traits were attributed to men by both sexes too, but to a much lesser extent. They found this trend in their 1989 and 1991 studies, which used questionnaires distributed to students in the United States.[63]

In an online survey 22,508 adults in 33 countries, conducted by Ipsos between 2022 and 2023, 48% of people believed that the promotion of women's rights has gone as far as discriminating against men.[64] A third of American men believe that they are discriminated against.[65]: 120 


Main article: Conscription and sexism

Some feminists[66][67][68][69][70] and opponents of discrimination against men[71][9]: 102  have criticised military conscription, or compulsory military service, as sexist. At the same time, the existing gender equality indices do not take into account gender-based mandatory conscription in peacetime for men.[72]

Military registration only for men in the United States is one of the examples that gender researcher Warren Farrell uses to illustrate discrimination against men. He writes that if any other group (for example, Jews, African Americans or women) were chosen at birth to become the only group for which registration for potential death would be required, society would call it anti-Semitism, racism or sexism.[73] Men, according to him, absorb in the course society's ideas about military duty for men as a path to "glory" and "power", and as a result do not consider it as discrimination.[74]

Selective service

In 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Rostker v. Goldberg case recognised the constitutional practice of military registration of only the male part of the country's population, arguing that women could not serve in positions related to direct participation in hostilities. However, in 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions on military service for women. In this regard, National Coalition For Men filed a lawsuit on the unconstitutionality of military registration aimed only at men, considering this practise discriminatory: men who do not register in Selective Service System at the age of 18 may be denied state benefits, such as employment in federal organisations and student loans. As a result, on February 22, 2019, a federal court in Texas agreed with human rights defenders, recognizing the current system of military registration in the United States unconstitutional.[75] However, this decision was overturned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.[76] In June 2021, the US Supreme Court refused to review the decision of the Court of Appeals.[77]

In the former Soviet Union

See also: Dedovshchina

In Soviet society, universal male military duty played a significant role in the construction of masculinity: Soviet ideas about militarized masculinity were based on the ideas of civic duty, heroism and patriotism, and Soviet gender ideology defined military service as the most important instance of turning a boy into a man. In post—Soviet Russia, the link between masculinity and militarization, established by the institute of conscription, has undergone significant changes - largely for political and economic reasons. Unlike the Soviet one, the post-Soviet Russian state no longer provides men with the former social guarantees as a reward for militarization, and the state's rupture of the former social contract leads to the reluctance of young men to go to military service. In addition, with the collapse of the Soviet state, militarized masculinity came into conflict with the new capitalist masculinity: many young men believe that military service is incompatible with a dynamic market economy and competition in the labour market. Scientists also state a significant gap between the state ideology of militarized patriotism and the sentiments of the Russian population, a significant part of which is sceptical about post-Soviet military conflicts and does not regard them as fair.[78]

During the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Ukrainian authorities, in order to mobilize men, banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country before the end of hostilities, which is discrimination against men on the basis of gender and violation of human rights.[79][80][81] Partial mobilization in Russia is no less discriminatory for men, since it forces them to risk their lives and health and kill other people regardless of their views; at the same time, men who fled mobilization in Russia are not even recognised by other countries as refugees.[79]

Extent and cause

The extent of discrimination against men in the modern world is the subject of debate in the scientific community.

Social justice researchers Camden Strunk and Leslie Locke argue that cisgender men may experience gender discrimination, but that it is not sexism due to its non-systemic nature.[82] Sociologist Øystein Gullvåg Holter characterizes the position of men in the gender hierarchy rather as mixed, but not as purely dominant.[83] Sociologist Fred Pincus says men may face intentional discrimination, although women are in a less favourable position than men;[84] Pincus also believes that such cases of discrimination against men have nothing to do with positive discrimination.[84] Psychologist Francesca Manzi says that since men are not typically discriminated, unlike women, discrimination against men is more difficult to detect. Estimates of the scale of the phenomenon may depend on discrepancies in the definition of the term "discrimination". According to her, the non-recognition of a number of unfavourable situations by discrimination may be influenced by traditional gender attitudes, which prohibit men from expressing stereotypical feminine behaviour.[8]

In the book Of Boys and Men, Richard Reeves writes that while discrimination against men exists, it is not done deliberately. He writes that it was caused by the result of "structural changes in the economy and broader culture, and the failings of our education system".[65]: 120 

Psychologist Aman Siddiqi, applying an intersectional approach, writes that men do not face bias to the same extent: for example, the manifestation of gender stereotypes, such as the perception of men as dangerous and aggressive, will vary depending on race.[85]


Airline seating

Main article: Airline seating sex discrimination controversy

Air New Zealand and Qantas banned men from sitting next to unaccompanied children in planes.[86] It was criticised for promoting the idea that all men are pedophiles and removing the distinction between caring family men and pedophiles. It also associated all men with the actions of the minority of men. The policy was criticised for using the health of children to justify discrimination against men. It was described by multiple accounts of men that such policies made them afraid of being falsely accused of child abuse or pedophillia.[87]

Women-only parking spaces

Main article: Women's parking space

In several parts of Germany exists parking spaces designated to women only due to them experiencing higher rates of sexual abuse. The law of some regions requires that 30 percent of parking are women-only. It has been under debate whether these are discriminatory or not, and that they promote the stereotype that women are bad drivers.[88][89] There is also women-only parking in Austria, Switzerland, China and Indonesia.[88] In Seoul, these were removed in efforts to promote gender equality.[89]


Discirimination against men is sometimes known as second sexism,[90] reverse sexism,[91] or misandry.[92]

See also


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