A blog post

Masculinities in motion

Posted on the 08 June, 2012 at 6:49 pm Written by in Research

[June draft version – oversize pictures, some pictures and comments missing, etc]

The “Masculinities in motion” conference  at the University of Oslo (May 31 – June 1, see program here), was very successful, with almost 200 participants from Norway, the Nordic region, and several other countries, and a broad range a keynote and workshop presentations.

The conference showed the emerging width of the men and masculinities research field.  Workshop papers included topics from A to Z, men and the military, therapy, health, households, work, culture, music, method – some with imaginative titles like Becoming an international man and Breakdance, that’s me!

The conference also showed increasing depth, for example in the fathers and families workshops, the multicultural workshops, health, and others. Professionals and activists were also participating, although the main groups were researchers and students, with fairly good gender balance.  Especially encouraging was the presence of many young researchers, showing recent recruitment into the field. The policy part, in the second day, gave interesting new Nordic region information as well as informed debate.

Being the host and leader of the conference work group was great, with so many good people to work with. It was also a bit exhausting.  The feedback, afterwards, has been very good.  Together we managed to build more of the two main “bridges” that we hoped for, in the planning of the conference  – connecting men and masculinites studies to gender equality research, and to health and quality of life research. I hope that most of the 60-70 papers presented will see their way into referee journals, books and other publications. They will surely make a difference.

Here are some photos from the conference (many thanks to the photographer, Nina Heilmann, STK).

Like all good men, we started with a bit of technology, or how to make it work – here is conferancier Thomas Walle, right, and a student assistant (….) left. We had a lot of help from students involved in the conference.


There were two welcome speeches, the first from the University of Oslo, by Jorunn Økland, leader of the University’s Centre for gender research.


And the second by the minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Inga Marte Thorkildsen.


The welcoming speeches contributed to the good atmosphere at the conference, and a common focus on what the new research says.

Thomas Walle (right), introduces the first “trio” keynote, with me (left)

In the next picture I look to the right, trying to make the rest of the trio agree with me. The point of starting with a trio was to show the new, larger scope of the men and masculinities field, and make different viewpoints more visible and accepted.

The second trio speaker was Jan Wickman.


The third, Lucas Gottzen.


We presented new material, like this:


Some views from the audience:



Ongoing discussions, here with Nina Jon from the conference arrangement committee (left) and Thorkildsen (right).


The conference participants got a quite strong initial input and enjoyed a break.

The second keynote was Michael Messner, on his new research on anti-violence work among men in the US.

The third keynote was Susan Meriläinen, University of Lapland, speaking of gender equality, masculinity and international business culture.


Meriläinen was commented by Jeff Hearn.

On the next day, Ulla-Brit Lilleaas introduced the health topic, discussing her new study.


She was followed by Svend Aage Madsen, asking, is there a gender-equal health model?

The last part of the second day had a Nordic politician panel and a practice oriented focus. Part of the panel here.


[Some pictures]

The Iceland representative told the audience that, despite severe economic setbacks, Iceland would not go back on its gender equal parental leave reform, and is instead planning to extend it.

After the politicians, practicioners got their say, including NGO initiatives. Here, Lennart Lock, Norway.

This was followed by researcher perspectives on politics and practice, here Marie Valentin Beck, Denmark.


This section ended by a presentation by Ingolfur Gislason, Iceland, the picture shows the conferencier thanking the presenter.

Jørgen Lorentzen commented on the politics and practices part, outlining future possibilities.


The final keynote, made by Sigtona Halrynjo, warned against continuing gender inequality, especially in working life.


Halrynjo presented data on continous gender inequality in careers paths in society, and its consequences for men.

The conference was ended by Nina Jon, speaking for the conference group, emphasizing that men are not just on the top of the statistics, but at the bottom too, and the need to investigate more.

So far, the response has been that the conference worked very well.

According to the evaluations from participants, after the conference,  some participants liked some keynotes better than others, and some have noted that a few papers in the workshops were less good than others. Mainly, the evaluation is very positive. Discussions at the conference were good, bringing research a step further.

Here is a final picture of informal audience discussion groups, during a break.