A key point on the G20 agenda is women’s economic empowerment. After a great first event about women entrepreneurs in the digital economy back in March, the U.S. Consul General Hamburg again sponsored a lecture on May 15. Michael Kimmel, one of the world’s most renowned male feminists, held a lecture, followed by a panel discussion with Hamburg’s second mayor Katharina Fegebank and American journalist Deborah Steinborn.
Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities. He is the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University. Among his many books are Manhood in America, Angry White Men, The Politics of Manhood, The Gendered Society and the best seller Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, he founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook in 2013.
Dr. Kimmel delivered a thought provoking and humorous talk about gender equality. He spoke of obstacles to broaching the topic of gender to men as well as the unconscious bias that members of both sexes face on a daily basis. To prove his point, he referred to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin’s revealing research on “blind” orchestra auditions and their impact on female musicians.
Kimmel addressed entitlement and how “privilege is invisible to those who have it.” He ended his comments by stating that gender equality is good for companies, countries, women, children and men. Kimmel is optimistic that millennials – women and men alike – will strive to develop both great careers for themselves and great relationships with their partners and children. However, he stressed, everyone needs to “start talking the walk.” We need a world where women can excel in the workplace but a structure to still let them be moms.
The panel discussion brought surprisingly candid and personal stories from Katharina Fegebank, Hamburg’s second mayor and senator for science, research and equality. Her mother instilled in her to “never become dependent on anyone.” Both Fegebank’s and Kimmel’s parents, fathers and mothers alike, were inspirational role models for them, they shared with the audience. Deborah Steinborn, a journalist and member of AWCH, asked how we can put gender equality into action, which led to a discussion of gender quotas in the workplace, both in Europe and the U.S. The panel also had a hearty debate about the rising populist movements currently on the rise transatlantic.
U.S. Consul General Rick Yoneoka gave an encouraging and informative introduction on how essential women in the workforce are to economic growth, and made a convincing argument for how equal pay for women can boost gross domestic product in the U.S. and Europe.
Co-sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General, Hamburg’s Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW), the AWCH and the Zentrum GenderWissen, the event drew a crowd of over 200 attendees - one quarter represented by men. It was a very wide ranging and informative talk and discussion.
from left to right: Michael Kimmel, Katharina Fegebank, Deborah Steinborn