One out of Two Men is a Woman

By Sarah Lemay for the Gazette de la Mauricie

Androcentrism literally means “male-centered.” It is a concept that reveals the historical, cultural and social domination of men over women in numerous societies around the world. This notion, as complex as it may be, has profound implications for women and society as a whole.

The Origins of Androcentrism

Androcentrism involves social structures where power and authority are mostly, if not exclusively, given over to men. These patriarchal systems have created environments where roles, norms and expectations towards women and men are very different. Men are traditionally considered the holders of political, economic and social power. Women are relegated to subordinate roles, principally in the domestic sphere.


Nowadays, androcentrism manifests itself in several ways. One of its most obvious expressions is pay inequity between men and women. Despite legislative advances, on average women still earn less than men for the same or equivalent employment. This disparity reflects a lower social valuation of women’s work. Persistent gender stereotypes continue to disadvantage women in the labor market.

There is a very tenacious myth that women could simply choose to pursue higher-paying trades and professions. The solution isn’t that simple. What we actually see is that salaries decrease when a profession feminizes.

As well, the under-representation of women in politics and in executive positions is another symptom of androcentrism. In fact, women are often excluded from power circles and decision-making. This limits their capacity to influence the direction their society will take. We may think that this situation is a thing of the past. Yet in 2020, Statistics Canada showed that 59.7% of all boards of directors were comprised of men only.

Furthermore, in education, school textbooks and curricula have long reflected an androcentric perspective. Several studies have concluded that textbooks are sexist. In effect, a 2016 study by Rhiannon Parker and her colleagues proved that men are more frequently represented than women in anatomy textbooks. Images of women were most often found in the sections on reproduction, and were more likely to be used to illustrate an injury or illness.

Cities themselves are organized from an androcentric viewpoint. Urban planning, historically dominated by men, has often favored the design of cities centred on masculine needs and experiences. For example, transport infrastructures are often conceived to respond to the needs of male workers who get to work by car. The specific needs of women in terms of security and mobility are ignored.  

A Swedish study showed that snow removal there was sexist. Big roads and arteries were plowed first. Sidewalks and smaller roads leading to daycare centres and schools, mostly used by women, were left snowed in. A reorganization of snow removal operations better guaranteed the safe movement of the population. Indeed, when they did this, there was a decrease in injuries due to falling on ice. And traffic generally moved around better.


One of the solutions is obviously attainable through inclusive education that uses diverse perspectives in class materials. Schools can commit to promoting environments where gender stereotypes are questioned, and a light is shone on the contributions of women in all disciplines. Moreover, encouraging women to participate in politics and decision-making are essential to avoiding androcentrism.

Deconstructing androcentrism is an essential task if we are to progress towards a more equal society. It requires a collective commitment to tearing down the structures that maintain this inequality. It will take all members of society to commit to this cause.

Also available in Reflet de Société 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.