Equality on His Terms: Doing and Undoing Gender through Men’s Discussion Groups

Rachael S. Pierotti, Milli Lake, Chloé Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Efforts to promote gender equality often encourage changes to interpersonal interactions as a way of undermining gender hierarchy. Such programs are premised on the idea that the gender system can be “undone” when individuals behave in ways that challenge prevailing gender norms. However, scholars know little about whether and under what conditions real changes to the gender system can result from changed behaviors. We use the context of a gender sensitization program in the Democratic Republic of Congo to examine prospects for transformative change at the interactional level of the gender system. Over nine months, we observed significant changes in men’s quotidian practices. Further, we identified a new commitment among many men to a more equal division of household labor. However, participants consistently undermined the transformative potential of these behavioral changes through their dedication to maintaining control over the objective, process, and meaning of change, resisting conceptions of equality that challenged the gender system. Because quotidian changes left gender hierarchy intact, they appear unlikely to destabilize the logics that legitimate women’s subordination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-562
Number of pages23
JournalGender and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • doing gender
  • gender equality
  • gender relations
  • household division of labor
  • social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Equality on His Terms: Doing and Undoing Gender through Men’s Discussion Groups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this