Factive's Blog

Participating in the conversation about gender, safety, and communications in the workplace.

UNFPA Report on GBV in South-East Myanmar

Congratulations to the UNFPA team in Myanmar on the publication of the report from the 2016 study into gender based violence in Myanmar’s Mon, Kayin, and Kayah states.

This assessment is the first of its kind to be conducted in the south-eastern region of Myanmar. It is an important contribution to ensuring the full inclusion of women and children in Myanmar’s political, social, and cultural systems, with a specific focus on the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) and its impact on these groups in south-eastern Myanmar.

Factive is proud to have been involved in the study through the work of its principal consultant Dean Laplonge.

The full report can be read here.

Who pays for inequality?

Action Aid’s Close the Gap report challenges us to think about who is most affected by changes in taxes and corporate subsidies.

Some key points in this report:

– Implicit gender biases are reflected in indirect taxation (e.g., HST, VAT, GST) because women are the primary caregivers and the main consumers of household products.

– Women are disproportionately affected when governments attempt to minimise budget deficits and keep inflation low through limiting government investment in public services, because women depend on public services more than men.

– Women are frequently strongly represented in public sector jobs. When government cutbacks occur, it is therefore women who are hit hardest.

– Macroeconomic policies are all too often geared towards creating the conditions for GDP growth, without much attention to bringing societies closer to achieving gender equality and social justice.

New Factive Publication

The “un-womanly” attitudes of women in mining towards the environment

This paper asks a question: Do women have a better ethics of care towards the environment than men?

The answer to this question is an important one for the mining industry today. If the answer to the question is “yes”, the employment of more women in mining could bring about changes in the management of the environment within this industry; and an outcome of these changes could be a reduction in the pollution and damage caused by the ways humans currently mine the earth’s resources.

The debate about gender in mining regularly includes claims that the employment of more women will help change the industry. The article begins with the assertion that such claims rely on essentialist ideas about how all women behave, and fail to consider the production of masculinity as the preferred gender for all mining employees.

The article draws on the results of a survey (conducted by Factive in 2015) which explored the attitudes of women who work in mining towards the environment. It concludes that the sex of employees is not the best indicator of possible change in environmental management and practices in the industry. Instead, greater attention needs to be given to constructions of gender for men and women within mining, possibly by drawing on ecofeminist ideas.

“Instead of relying on women to save the mined environment, we should further challenge and change this gendered culture such that the environment benefits from a more feminist practice of mining.”

Access to the article is here. You can also contact Factive via our website to request a copy.

Reference: Laplonge, D. (2017). “The ‘unwomanly’ attitudes of women in mining towards the environment”. The Extractive Industries and Society. DOI: 10.1016/j.exis.2017.01.011

Tears for Fears: Constructing Masculinities at Work

Why do men bully at work? Why do they engage in behaviours which are intended to intimidate their co-workers, and hopefully make other men cry?

We hear a lot about workplace bullying. The general view is that it shouldn’t happen. But it does. Almost half of employees will experience workplace bullying at some point in their working life. Workplace bullying is said to cost employers up to $36 million each year in terms of lost productivity.

The main response so far has been to insist that employers need to have strict policies and procedures in place to respond. There has also recently been a focus on helping employees become more “resilient” to bullying. This includes offering training in how to respond, including communicating with the bully.

But there is something missing in our thinking about men who bully other men in the workplace. This bullying is actually a “normal” part of masculinity. The act of bullying offers men the hope of continuing to identify as strong and dominant. All they need to achieve this is the construction of an opposite – a weaker person.

In an article published in November 2016 in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers Aleksander Ellis and Daphna Moto conclude there is a distinct sex difference in respect to how a person gets treated when they cry in the workplace. Men who cry in response to negative feedback are labelled as “atypical” by their colleagues and employers. They have reduced chances of promotion, and are considered to be poor choices for leadership roles.

Men who cry at work lose credibility. They become not man enough. Weeping men are removed from the competition to determine who is the best worker or manager. They exist only to affirm the continuing real manliness of the man who hasn’t (yet) cried.

This need to find an “Other” to produce a “Self” is something that has been widely researched in identity work. At an individual level, it is used to interpret how we define ourselves. I am Australian, because you are Japanese. I a man, because you are woman. I cannot identify as an Australian male unless I have a Japanese female against which to understand myself. It’s also a basic idea in representation which allows us to know the difference between an apple and an orange, or a chair and a table. Knowing what that other thing is not allows me to know what this thing here is.

For boys, the construction of normal masculinity is about what they do—the kinds of activities they engage in, the music they listen to, the books they don’t read. It also involves having to construct an Other who is less boy, more “girly”. This explains in part why boys intimidate and bully other boys. They use words and physical aggression with the intent of producing a weaker boy against which they can confirm their own strength. An “other” weak boy is needed for the strong “self” to exist.

This is important for thinking about why men bully other men in the workplace. It is not that they are necessarily bad men. It is not simply that they have some individual insecurities which are driving their bullying behaviours. They are also participating in “normal” everyday practices of constructing masculinity. They know that their successful masculinity can be built through de-masculinising others.

This is why men override decisions made by others at work. This is why they publicly criticise their colleagues and subordinates. This why they seek out and highlight errors in their colleagues’ work, instead of understanding work as lifelong learning and working collaboratively to achieve a goal. This is why they engage in activities which aim to show how they and their work are the best, even if this means preventing others from achieving what they can.

Responding to cases of bullying is important in a workplace. Bullying can have devastating and long-term impacts on those who are subjected to it. It must be challenged and stopped. But this requires more than implementing and applying a policy.

Attention needs to be given to how masculinity is constructed within a workplace. What kinds of men are seen to be “good” or “real” men in your workplace? What behaviours do these men exhibit to attain their “real” manhood? What kinds of behaviours are seen to signify weakness, and why? And what can be done to create a gender culture at work in which to be considered a “good man” does not involve having to try and make other men cry?

Employment Position at Factive

Research Assistant/Editor (Gender)

Factive is seeking to employ a research assistant and editor, to help with editing and research tasks.

Factive (www.factive.com.au) is a cultural research consultancy based in Australia and Canada, with global clients. Our focus is gender and safety in business and communities. Our work is completed in partnership with international organisations, government bodies, and private companies.


The Research Assistant/Editor will be employed on a casual basis to assist with work on specific projects. In the first instance, you will be tasked with editing draft reports. You will be expected to review first drafts and client feedback, and quickly assess what needs to be done to bring the reports to completion. You will then be tasked with carrying out this work. Research skills, writing, and editing are key to the completion of this work.


In order to be considered for this position, you must be able to show:

– a completed postgraduate degree related to gender (completed or near completion.

– exceptional writing and editing skills in English

– experience of working in a research environment or as a research assistance (e.g., literature reviews, sourcing information, writing reports)

– evidence of having applied a multi-disciplinary approach to gender issues (within the context of industry and workplaces preferred)

– ability to work independently and to complete tasks according to strict deadlines

– an interest in exploring women’s safety

Application Process

Interested applicants should send a completed application to [email protected]. Your application must include the following:

– a letter of motivation indicating why you are suitable for this position (1 page max.)

– a CV which includes current contact details for 2 referees (3 pages max.)

– extracts from research publications or reports you have written, preferably in the field of gender (4 pages max.)

Applications are accepted from suitable candidates located anywhere in the world.

The deadline for applications is 5 February 2017.