Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

It's no secret that men sometimes get a bad rap.

It was only three years ago that Hanna Rosin, a popular writer for The Atlantic, published the groundbreaking book The End of Men, launching countless discussions about whether or not men are becoming obsolete.

Ms. Rosin made the argument that men are failing in the work force and losing their role as primary breadwinner. The fact that the subject isn't raised as often any more makes me wonder whether it's been accepted as a truism.

Story continues below advertisement

While many – myself included – applaud the rise of women as breadwinners and business leaders, the plight of the middle-aged male can't be ignored, specifically since recent data show a troubling spike in suicide rates for this demographic. It's what Salon magazine recently dubbed the "Willy Loman crisis."

The article characterizes this cohort of white, middle-class men as having once been masters of the universe – until they weren't. Forced to face challenging economic conditions as a result of the 2008 economic meltdown, many felt there was no alternative but to end their lives.

It's not just a U.S. problem. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, men die by suicide at four times the rate of women and, in Ontario, over the past 10 years, more men died from suicide than car crashes.

Dr. Dan Bilsker, a Vancouver-based psychologist at the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction, or CARMHA, said this recent data showing a spike in suicides for men in their 50s and older caught everyone by surprise.

"Suicide is proportionately a male problem. Something is going on that is driving higher rates for men in this age range. The real question is, what's going on at a social level and in a workplace organizational level. We don't know," he said.

While Dr. Bilsker said there is certainly a correlation between the economy and suicide rates, he also believes that there are changes in our culture that need to be explored.

"I do hear from men that there is a tendency in our culture to marginalize older, male workers, some of whom feel they are being pushed aside. It's speculation, but it may be one of the social or cultural factors. Older people are often sidelined, and there is often the perception that they have become irrelevant, but perhaps it is hitting men more," he surmised.

Story continues below advertisement

Unfortunately, in our current cultural environment, a lot of people find it tough to feel sorry for middle-aged white guys. As the Salon piece implies, such men have a branding issue and there will be no telethons or fundraisers to focus on their plight.

While they may be killing themselves at record numbers, it's hard to reconcile this with the idea that they are somehow unfairly favoured in the workplace, since men –and largely white men – hold 95.6 per cent of all chief executive officer roles at S&P 500 companies.

It's also hard to draw attention to the plight of middle-class white males without falling into the open arms of the men's rights movement, a "manosphere" populated by misogynists who blame women and feminism for all of men's woes. Let's be clear: Feminism isn't to blame for this issue. In fact, it may be part of the solution.

"Women, and feminists in particular, have been saying for decades that they want men to be more open with their feelings and want men to abandon masculine ideas of rugged individualism, so it makes no sense for women to somehow be blamed when men fail to seek help," argued Cliff Leek, a Brooklyn-based doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Stony Brook University and the managing editor of the research journal Men and Masculinities.

Men, he observed, need to adjust to a more equal work environment and that includes addressing their own assumptions that they are more entitled to positions or promotions than their female peers.

"The idea that men are being 'unfairly' overlooked for promotions and hiring is premised on the misguided idea that women who are hired are not qualified or are less qualified than men. This simply isn't the case," said Mr. Leek, adding that research shows women often need to have more experience than men in order to be seen as equally qualified.

Story continues below advertisement

Part of the difficulty that some men are having as workplaces become more gender-equal is that they were raised on the idea that the workplace is a man's world. At the same time, Mr. Leek said, research indicates that men often want to live in a more equal world.

"They want to share responsibilities at home. They want their partners to have full and rewarding work lives. But, of course, saying that you want equality and fully understanding the changes that means for men's lives are two very different things," he noted.

Leah Eichler is founder and CEO of r/ally, a machine-learning, human capital search engine for enterprises. Twitter: @LeahEichler

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies