Posted by: dickardnora | March 21, 2019

Men as Women’s Allies

After discussing in class the idea of tempered radicalism and small wins, I became interested in researching strategic alliances. Specifically speaking, strategic alliances with men. Most of what we talked about in class was building an alliance with your enemies, so I’m aiming for this blog post to be more about how men can help women in the workplace. The article I found discusses how male allies can benefit women as well as some challenges men might face when they attempt to become allies.

According to the article, when men are involved in gender inclusion programs, their organization sees more progress. This means that men are invited to attend women’s leadership conferences and are encouraged to participate in gender equity conversations. Personally, it makes total sense to me. If we involve men in these conferences and conversations, they have an idea of women’s hardships in the workplace and allows them to see our perspective. In some cases, these men could be in the “in-group” which is a perfect area to instill change.

Unfortunately, in some cases, women don’t want men as allies. On the one hand, some women want these conferences and conversations to be a safe place to share. When a man comes into the equation, a woman might feel discouraged to share her honest experiences or ideas. However, I believe that involving men in these conversations can be very beneficial, even if it is uncomfortable at first.

The article identifies three type of men in the workplace regarding gender equity. There are the apathetic, aware, and the active men. The “apathetic” men are disinterested in the subject of gender equity all together. The “aware” are those who understand, but do not know what to do about the issues. The “active” men are those who are proactive about gender inclusion. It is important for women to be open to the idea of having a male ally. I think that encouraging men into these conversations and helping them feel comfortable when attending women’s conferences will benefit us in the long run. Having those “active” men on our sides can help us turn the “aware” men into “active” men, or “apathetic” men into at least “aware” men.

How do you feel about this? How do you think men could be better allies to women? On the flip side, how can women be good allies in return? Should women allow men into these conversations and conferences on gender equity, or should they remain a safe place for just women?



  1. I really like your ideas on this topic. I agree with you- I think it is definitely important to have men as allies as well, because I don’t think it should be a problem of “men vs women”; I think we should approach it as men and women on the same team, working together to change a culture of discrimination and inequality. It is important to acknowledge that there are people-not just men-who are unaware of discrimination in their organizations (even if they have been affected by it). I think that a good way to make people more aware of the problem is to make them see that this is not just a women’s issue, it’s an issue that affects everyone. Because as you said, when men are also involved in gender inclusion programs, it is beneficial to the success of the organization as a whole.
    I can understand your point about women wanting a safe place to share, but I think if those women can be brave enough to share with men as well, it will be very beneficial. It’s hard to get someone to change when they are unaware of what they’re doing wrong. By getting everyone to the point where they are “aware” instead of “apathetic”, I think that would be a major first step.

  2. I am always pushing for male allies for women. While women need to support other women, we also need to bridge the gap between the two genders and help each other out, and not in just a romantic sense. I think there are a good amount of men who are stuck at the aware state: they want to help, and know they should, but are not sure how to and that’s where inviting them to these conferences and inviting them into the conversation would be beneficial. I understand some women’s apprehension because they don’t want the “apathetic” type of man to come into these conversations and make them feel unsafe. But we need to educate aware men into becoming active men. To help educate the apathetic men, I think that should be done by other men who are in a higher state of mind because they could influence better about gender equality than a woman could because of their state of mind about it already. And an important part for women to be good allies to men is to not shut them down when they are trying to learn or be better. Do not shut them out and just generalize that all men suck or other hurtful stereotypes; let them in and let them become better so the stereotype can be broken. We can all only benefit from becoming allies with each other.

  3. I really appreciated this article and enjoyed your approach to the topic we have been discussing these past few class periods. I do agree that men and women should be allies; however, I think there are boundaries and limits to how this can be done/accomplished. One of the things that really stood out to me, which I believe could play into the idea of how men can be better allies to women, is through the idea of the Pedestal Effect. In a lot of instances, when men are recognized for these small accomplishments that men seem to have in their workplace. While recognition is good, it is also important to recognize the right kinds of accomplishments and what that recognition is actually doing for the workplace and employees. If you are focusing on how men are doing better with gender equity, it again begins to degrade the small feats women are having because the focus is again being placed on the men.

  4. I really loved your point of view on the topic of engaging male allies. The idea of male mentorship and sponsorship came up a lot during the research for my annotated bibliography; many of my sources encouraged women to reach out to males within their organization because at the bottom line (at least in today’s world), men currently hold a lot of the higher level leadership positions within a majority of organizations. They are a great resource for career advancement and enrichment simply because of the positions they have.

    I also believe that men should be included in conversations about gender equity. Again, men hold a lot of powerful positions and it’s important to include them if women want changes at all levels of an organization. By including men, gender equity becomes something that becomes easier to talk about. It won’t be an “awkward” conversation to have, it’ll become a necessary conversation that should be addressed. While some topics may be weird to discuss in front of male colleagues and especially male executives, the more we open ourselves to talking about the tough stuff, the easier it will be for us to confront these issues head on.

  5. This idea of forming alliances with men has been something that has stuck out to me this whole semester. I’ve been thinking a lot about how women in leadership is even a topic of study because what we typically see is men in leadership. Men in leadership has been the norm and that “norm” is very hard to break. With men in leadership, men are often making the decision of who gets leadership positions. When you have those traditionally-thinking men in power they are going to elect or promote people who are similar to them which in this case ends up being like-minded men. This becomes an endless cycle and makes it incredibly hard for women on their own to break this cycle. When it gets to this point women can either go around bashing men or they can befriend them and that’s where I see this strategic alliance building being so important. If women want to be in leadership positions, befriending and gaining the trust and respect of those who have the power to promote you would be beneficial. Once some women get in those leadership positions they then have the power to elect and promote the next generation and overtime more and more women would be seen in leadership. Prior to reading your post, I hadn’t thought about inviting men in on gender inclusion initiatives, but I do think that would be very effective. If you only focus on and educate women that’s only half of the population. By including men and educating men you may be able to get the whole population to work together to see more women in leadership.

  6. Good topic! I think that, due to the current workplace climate of women feeling marginalized in work environments, men seem to be blamed for those feelings. While I think this is kind of a valid perspective on the situation, obviously not all men are at fault for the lack of representation and the gender imbalance in the professional setting. Rather, the nature of our culture is very much to blame for the way that women are viewed and treated, and the blaming of men or the refusal to form alliances with them/recognize their ability to help is targeting the results of culture, not culture itself. Instead of excluding men from discussions about gender equality, it is important to recognize that they hold positions of power and that they can help if given the chance. That way, rather than attacking/ pointing the finger at men for aiding in the professional gender imbalance, the power of the entire population against a corrupt and contaminated culture could actually change the system instead of trying to put out smaller, resulting fires.

  7. I think this topic is definitely worth mentioning and researching! As some of the above comments do note, based on the work environment of so many organizations, men are seen as the problem, and having women view them as part of the “in-group” may be crucial towards changing our mindset.
    When you note that women may want these “all women groups” to remain only made up of women, this brings an interesting topic about all “in-groups”. I think a lot of people find similarity with regards to struggles as a comforting notion that they can overcome something – because someone of similar background and identity overcame that as well. I think many more men who identify as “aware” but not “active” would possibly change their mindset if these inclusion groups were more open to including men.
    Becoming knowledgeable about someone’s issue or way of life leads to feeling more empathetic which usually increases an individuals willingness to help.

  8. I believe that this is a great concept that you bring up Nora. In my opinion, it is vital to have male allies at the table when having these conversations about women’s equality and advancement in the workplace. In a post last week about Ariana Grande headlining for Manchester Pride, I pointed out that our allies and mentors don’t always need to look exactly like us – and I think that same sentiment holds true here, as well. While these men obviously can’t speak to the female experience, their willingness to be apart of the change in gender equality in the workplace is very meaningful and something that should be embraced. By allowing men to come into these conversations, women are able to build strategic alliances with men who are aware of the issues at hand and willing to help affect change. This is something to be celebrated and encouraged amongst our co-workers in the office.

  9. I frequently think about this topic, how men are allies for women when facing the problem of gender equality in the workplace. Like you mentioned, forming strategic allies is extremely important and inviting men to the conversation is too. This way, they can learn about the experiences women go through on a daily basis as well as open their eyes more to the small injustices in the workplace they would have never noticed before. For example, those who are willing to stand up for women they see being treated poorly in the workplace will make a difference. I believe that men joining the coalition in advocating for gender equality is a staple in trying to make more small wins for big gains in the future.

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