Equal Opportunities Commission

Not much sympathy for the unfairer sex

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am

It's tough to be a man in Hong Kong. At least, that's the impression you get from reading a new study by the Equal Opportunities Commission on gender stereotyping and its impact on men. We poor guys build our self-image and esteem on earning more than women and keeping them in their place.

The thing is, we have problems finding our own place in a rapidly changing world. That makes it more difficult to keep the fairer sex under our thumb. We did all right in the old days when Hong Kong was a manufacturing town. But the shift to a service economy - the EOC calls it 'deindustrialisation' - has equalised opportunities for both sexes. Take out on-the-job demands for physical strength and we men have no advantage over the opposite sex.

Except, of course, we do. It's still a man's world in Hong Kong. Take a look at the number of women on the boards of public bodies and listed companies. The government has pledged to ensure women hold at least 30 per cent of posts on any advisory board or statutory body. Women now make up 1,814 of the 5,850 non-official members appointed to government advisory bodies, or 31 per cent, but some powerful boards, such as those of the Town Planning Board, Airport Authority and Urban Renewal Authority, still lag. The private sector, alas, is even further behind.

So women still face discrimination, but according to the EOC, men are being neglected. We have, for example, a Women's Commission, but no equivalent for men. The EOC pokes its nose into the work of a peer commission by recommending overhauling it into a Commission for Gender Equality. Really? How about merging the EOC and Women's Commission to save public money?

Speaking of neglect, what about cancer, a subject neglected in the report? Massive research grants the world over have gone into studying breast cancer, to the neglect of prostate cancer. Most women nowadays know how to check their own anatomy for early symptoms. Most men still know more about the inside of our cars and computers than our own vital organs.

The EOC report makes me feel neglected and vulnerable. Some hand-holding please, guys?