Thinking Outside the ‘Man Box’

What we do:

Futurum Careers is a free online resource and magazine aimed at encouraging 14-19-year-olds worldwide to pursue careers in science, tech, engineering, maths, medicine (STEM) and research. We work with academics all over the world and translate their research into free education resources that can be used in the classroom, at home and in STEM and STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, social sciences, humanities and maths) clubs.

Why we do it:

We are passionate about STEM and STEAM education and we’re passionate about science communication. Why not combine the two?

Futurum is here because we want to help teachers deliver a high quality, broadened STEAM education that will invigorate their students’ desire to learn. We want to help scientists and researchers communicate their work to a global audience of teenagers, young adults and teachers. We want to offer teenagers and young adults – regardless of their gender, race of background – the knowledge and confidence to study STEAMM subjects – and, in turn, social mobility.

Our ultimate aim is to help students (and teachers help students) connect the subjects they are learning with real-world careers in STEAM. In the UK, Ofsted now ranks schools according to their application of Gatsby Benchmarks. The Gatsby Benchmarks are a framework of eight guidelines that define the best careers provision in schools and colleges. When schools and teachers use our content, we can support them in meeting Gatsby Benchmarks 2, Learning from career and labour market information; 4, Linking curriculum learning to careers; 5 Encounters with employers and employees; and 7 Encounters with further and higher education. The US equivalent is the NGSS – Next Generation Science Standards.

Our mission is to enable researchers to inspire, teachers to motivate, and students to aspire.

How we work with researchers:

As the name Futurum suggests, we are always looking ahead, which is why we feel strongly about the importance of sharing knowledge and innovation, and why we ensure that research is communicated in an accessible and engaging manner, to an audience that is keen to learn.

We get to know our researchers’ work, use our expertise to craft teacher and student-friendly learning resources, and ensure our researchers are proud of the materials we share with the public on their behalf.

Increasing STEM skills is a global priority and Futurum is gratified by connecting experts from all over the world with the next generation of researchers. We ensure real impact is achieved by getting researcher’s work in front of teachers, from a source they trust and in a format they can use easily.

How we support teachers:

Every teacher wants to challenge their students and to pass on the passion for their subject that made them work in education in the first place. In the real world of heavy teaching timetables and minimal planning time, however, we know that teachers can struggle to provide learning experiences that broaden their students’ knowledge and understanding beyond the confines of exam specifications.

Our job is to provide free, stimulating and high-quality resources that enable teachers to stretch their students that little bit more, and take them beyond the classroom and into the innovative world of contemporary research.

The resources we provide for teachers foster engagement, curiosity and independent learning, while showcasing career options available to young people.

Meet the Futurum team

To the extent that we let it, society and the media can govern the way we act, think, and view ourselves and others. Of course, this phenomenon greatly affects women. But a recent Australian study has found that men, too, are facing immense societal pressure to fit into a certain mould. The researchers refer to this mould as the ‘Man Box’.

Men feel the pressure of expectation

It’s quite likely that you have heard, or even used, phrases such as ‘c’mon, be a man and step up’, ‘are you are real man, or what?’ or ‘just man up and do it, would you!’ These phrases are a by-product of certain expectations that society places upon boys and men – to be strong, confident and crass.

According to the American Psychological Association, men do feel the pressure to be ‘masculine,’ or ‘man enough”. And they feel the need to prove their toughness continually. What they don’t realise is that their peers are slowly but surely squeezing them into a mould. That mould could be referred to as the ‘Man Box’ – and that box is a very dark place.

What is the ‘Man Box’?

As humans, we’re always putting things into boxes. It’s an effective way of categorising and filing things, and to make sense of the world. We also do it with people. We stereotype them, or put them into boxes, in line with our personal attitudes or beliefs.

With this in mind, the Man Box is a set of beliefs within society that place pressure on men to be a certain way – to be tough; not to show any emotions; to be the breadwinner, to always be in control and use violence to solve problems.

The perils of fitting into the Man Box

The Australian study, cited earlier, found that young men aged between 18 and 30, who conform to traditional definitions of manhood, are more likely to suffer harm to themselves, and do harm to others. For example, they are more likely to report committing acts of violence, online bullying and sexual harassment. Sadly, women are often at the receiving end of this deplorable behaviour.

In terms of personal impacts, men inside the Man Box are more likely to be in car accidents and abuse alcohol. Moreover, the researchers reported a 44% of those inside the box had thoughts of suicide within a 2-week period, compared to 22% outside of it.

Why you need to think outside the Man Box

Considering these statistics, it is clear that perpetually trying to fit into the Man Box can be very damaging indeed. It leads people down a path of destruction, which ultimately leads to harming oneself and others.

How important it is, then, to think outside the Man Box. A few good friends, reliable family members, or trustworthy health professionals will help you to do that.

Why we’re thinking outside of the box

We don’t usually use our blogs to talk about research – our research articles do this well enough, we feel – but this subject links in with work being undertaken by Dr Christine Wekerle and her team. She’s creating an app, which helps young people to keep positive and to be resilient in the face of life’s daily pressures – and that includes young men.

Read more about this:

Jesuit Social Services: The Man Box

The Conversation: Australian study reveals the dangers of ‘toxic masculinity’ to men and those around them

American Psychological Association: Man up . . . Whatever that means