Making men allies for gender equality

Matthew Giampoala | March 7, 2018

It happens too frequently.  I get thanked for being the only man in the room at an event or committee meeting geared toward promoting equity for women. This makes me immensely uncomfortable.  I don’t deserve thanks just for showing up, the same way I don’t deserve praise for contributing to raising my own children.

But why am I the only man there and why did it take me years and years to make time in my schedule to start showing up? I’m still not sure.  One reason that resonates with me is that I thought the only way I could help was to stay out of the way.  I now know that isn’t true.

It took me too long to realize that just being an ally on the sidelines isn’t enough.  I have a moral obligation to be involved even if I’m not a member of a particular underrepresented group.  We all have a stake in creating workplace equity.  It was too easy for me to believe that it wasn’t my place to get involved or that I didn’t have the power to make a difference anyway.  I’ve actually found the opposite is the case.  The more involved I’ve become with mentoring and volunteer work (inside my company and out), the more chances I have been given to really change things.

And taking the WE Survey is a simple way to contribute. As a former researcher, I’m all for gathering more data specific to the field of publishing.  As I took the survey, I thought about the ways that progress in workplace culture and quality truly benefit everyone.  We all benefit when the company focuses on work-life balance and we all benefit when our leadership and workforce come from a broad spectrum of people from all backgrounds.  It was also a good chance for some self-reflection on my place within my employer’s culture.

I know I still have personal progress to make and I’m certain our institutions and employers all have a lot of work to do to continue to make progress. Let’s engage in that work together.