Cultivating Male Allyship

Oftentimes, DEI initiatives focus on how women can persevere and overcome the sexist barriers they face. However, thinking of gender inequality as a “woman’s issue” leaves behind a crucial piece of the puzzle--men! When men are engaged in the work of gender equity and actively champion the women in their life, it makes a tremendous difference in progressing toward the goal of gender parity.

Members of SWE’s Corporate Partnership Council (CPC) gain access to subject matter experts and organizational best practices.  As part of our winter meeting, SWE took a closer look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the role of male allies. David G. Smith, PhD and W. Brad Johnson, PhD, gender-in-the-workplace experts, presented their research, experiences and organizational best practices on engaging men in allyship with women in the workplace. Find key takeaways below:

Men play an essential role in the pursuit of gender equality.

Oftentimes, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives focus on how women can persevere and overcome the sexist barriers they face. However, thinking of gender inequality as a “woman’s issue” leaves behind a crucial piece of the puzzle–men! When men are engaged in the work of gender equity and actively champion the women in their life, it makes a tremendous difference in progressing toward the goal of gender parity.

Using evidence-based best practices, David and Brad illustrate how men can partner with their colleagues to advance women’s leadership and promote equality by breaking down gender stereotypes, overcoming unconscious bias, supporting the women around them, and forming productive working relationships with women. Plenty of men are aware of how sexism continues to impact women and want to get involved, but are unsure where to begin. Luckily, David and Brad have provided allyship roadmaps:

Allyship has two parts

1. Interpersonal Allyship: Allyship begins at home.

  • Self-educate.

  • Engage with female colleagues with curiosity and humility, and learn about their experiences.

  • Welcome feedback and share what you learn with others.

  • Build trust, friendship and collegiality with women in your workplace.

  • Hold yourself accountable.

2. Public Advocacy: Take a stand.

  • Be attentive and mindful of gender dynamics in the workplace.

  • Confront others when behavior is inappropriate.

  • Practice transparency.

  • Sponsor or mentor women colleagues.

  • Hand women the mic and center them by shifting attention to their contributions.

When interpersonal and public allyship are practiced, it encourages a leadership perspective and contributes to broader systemic change. 

Male engagement in gender parity benefits everyone. When men are intentional allies, mentors and collaborators with women, workplaces become more inclusive, creative, and successful, and we move closer to a more just and equitable society. 

Want to learn more?

Be sure to check out David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson’s books: Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace, and Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, and visit workplaceallies.com

SWE Resources

  • SWE’s HeForSWE Affinity Group seeks to make sustainable efforts towards a more inclusive culture where women are recognized as essential members of their teams and organizations. HeForSWE has become a valuable resource for SWE members by providing multiple perspectives on gender inclusivity and using male influence to further SWE’s mission. Learn more here or email affinitygroups@swe.org.
  • Podcast: “Men as Diversity Partners” series  – Listen to meaningful conversations about the importance of male diversity partners and their impact on advancing women engineers.
  • Interested in the Corporate Partnership Council? Click here to learn more about the CPC and our CPC Members. Questions? Contact strategicpartnerships@swe.org

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