Redefining Our Idea of What it Means to be a Man in the 21st Century By Jane Sandwood

Today's guest post is from Jane Sandwood. She grew up in a very male dominated household including three brothers and her father, with her grandfather living nearby. She has become quite interested in the concept of ‘the modern man’ and what it means in reality. Watching her brothers grow up to become fathers, whilst also considering her own father’s approach to parenthood, has opened her eyes to how fatherhood has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. And of course, becoming a mother to sons herself, has made her think about what it really means to be a man in this modern age.


It isn’t odd to find references to the so-called ‘crisis of masculinity’ in the United States. Although the gender pay gap still exists, statistics point to interesting changes in some age groups - for instance, a new analysis of job offers by Hired, has found that women with two years or less in the workforce, tend to request 2% more compensation than men. As noted by Fortune’s Valentina Zarya, women on the cusp of the Millennial and Gen Z generations have arrived at a point in which gender roles are more fluid than in the past. Large paradigm shifts such as these have led the media to question what it means to be a man in the 21st century. However, if we look at how men’s ideas of masculinity are changing, we find that in the breakdown of traditional roles, everyone’s a winner.

Dream Careers

In the past, there is no doubt that a successful man was mainly defined by his earnings. Today’s male, however, places priority on doing something that they love, although it won’t necessarily make them rich. Interestingly, research shows that a very high percentage of wealthy men enjoy what they do for a living; there clearly is a correlation between material success and working in a job that ignites your passion.

A New Definition of Leadership

Today’s leader is inclusive, thoughtful and eager to promote greater diversity in the workplace. Gone are the days when micro-management and a stern leadership style were the qualities of a successful manager. Today’s leader is interested in how to bring out the best in his staff, or how to produce optimal results. Issues like flexibility, working from home, and a work-life balance have become crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Cultural diversity is also important; managers are realizing the importance of a diverse, international team, who can identify and cater to the needs of clients who are becoming ever more international in this age of ubiquitous connectivity.

Freedom of Expression through Design, Style and Leisure Choices

Modern men are more interested in designing their living space, and see fashion as the way to express their personality; thankfully, more creative ways of dressing up are visible on the world’s top catwalks, with style icons like Kanye West often creating gender-fluid designs. Men’s changing roles at home and in the workforce mean that hobby choices have also changed, with cooking classes proving particularly popular among men and women alike. The quest for a new kind of manliness has also shaped our travel choices - many men are foregoing the world’s big capitals for nature - and spiritual-based retreats which often incorporate mindfulness-based activities such as yoga.

There have always been challenges for men and women, since societal constructs have the potential to limit our freedom and individuality. However, changing expectations for men mean that there is not time like right now to freely define and express our personal idea of manliness and masculinity.

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector