In the UK in 2017, around 7.7 million people lived alone. Around 54% – or just over half of these – were men. So when we launched the Living Well Alone Survey in September, we expected that we’d get a good mixture of men and women answering our questions – perhaps not quite fifty-fifty, but somewhere close.
A quick look at the survey results shows that this isn’t what’s been happening.
Despite making up more than half of the living alone community, men account for only 9% of all responses received so far. A staggering 89% of those who have taken the survey are women (the remaining 2% is made up of people who define in a non-binary way, and those who skipped the question).
Everyone who has completed the survey has taken the time to give us thoughtful insight, and brilliant advice drawn from their experience – we’re really grateful, and confident that when we bring all of this together, we’ll be able to turn the Living Well Alone Project website into a vibrant toolkit aimed at celebrating the lives of those who live alone, and empowering those who do to lead happy, healthy, connected lives.
But the gender split is astonishing, and we’re curious to know what’s going on. Where are the all the men?
I had a quick look at the list of people who’ve ‘liked’ our Facebook page, to see if anything different is happening there. While it’s sometimes hard to guess someone’s gender if they don’t have a profile picture and/or if they have a gender neutral name, I’d estimate that around 10% of our online community is made up of men – again quite a bit lower than we might have expected.
What could possibly be happening?
I did some googling (obviously), and found some interesting facts.
According to a 2008 study, it turns out that women are more likely to take part in online surveys than men. Perhaps this could be part of the answer?
Next, I had a look at more general research on how men and women use the internet. There’s quite a bit in this space, with some researchers believing that women are more likely to be drawn to spaces that are about communicating, connecting and exchanging ideas, whereas men are more likely to seek out information. Not exclusively of course, but there’s definitely a trend. Perhaps this could be part of the answer too?
I still feel like the research we’ve uncovered doesn’t go the whole way towards answering the question of the ‘missing men.’
But why does this matter?
We set up the Living Well Alone Project to empower everyone living alone to lead happy, healthy, connected lives – including men! And it’s important that when we’re building the website, we’re making sure the information we’re including is relevant to everyone we want to reach. To do that, we need to hear from those with similar experiences to others who might log on.
From the little information we have, we know that almost all the men who have completed the survey say that loneliness and isolation are the biggest issues they face in living alone.
If even a hundred of the thousand people who have visited the Living Well Alone Project site since its launch last month were men – especially if they are coming to the site looking for advice, say following a bereavement or separation – then this suddenly becomes even more important.
So – if anyone has any ideas about where all the men might be, if you are a man and could shed some light on this, or if you know men who might be interested in getting involved in the project, in any way – please do let us know, or forward on a link to the survey!
Til next time,