The Advocates and Allies project at RIT is specifically designed for academic settings to support men faculty, in consultation with women faculty, in gender-equity efforts.
In 2015, RIT created the Advocates and Allies program through funding from the National Science Foundation Grant No. 1500604 titled, “Engaging Male Colleagues in Institutional Transformation for the Advancement of Women Faculty.” The Advocates and Allies project at RIT is based on an innovative approach designed by North Dakota State University to involve faculty men intentionally in the transformation of departmental cultures and practices. Our method, based on the NDSU approach, is specifically designed for academic settings to support men faculty, in consultation with women faculty, in gender-equity efforts and includes two essential components:
Recognize the implicit and explicit intersectional manifestations of gendered discrimination
Effectively and systematically generate individual behaviors and institutional policies that interrupt inequities and foster gender justice.
The mission of the Advocates and Allies program is:
Introduce men to knowledge, skills, and strategies to effect positive personal, departmental, and institutional change
Emphasize men working with other men while maintaining accountability to women
Build a supportive network of men allies who are committed to gender equity
Nearly 100 RIT faculty men have attended Ally training and taken action, primarily within their own department. Common actions taken include:
Speaking up at meetings regarding gender diversity and equity
Act as an active bystander to support an inclusive, civil work environment
Invite women colleagues to collaborate on research
Nominate women colleagues for awards
Serve on a committee as a gender equity proponent in place of their women colleagues to reduce the inequity of service loads
Tips for Being an Advocate and Ally
Advocates are faculty men who support faculty women by working toward improving gender diversity and equity. These advocates have a strong commitment to supporting women faculty in their department, colleges, and the university. They are aware of institutional dynamics and structural bias while showing an interest in learning about issues of discrimination and privilege in the workplace. The advocates are active and effective proponents of gender diversity and equity.
Faculty men with a strong commitment and record of supporting women faculty in their department, colleges, and the university
Active and effective proponents of gender diversity and equity
Committed to increasing their understanding of gender bias and its impact on the academic careers of women.
Expected to have an awareness of the dynamics of institutional and structural bias and privilege and be interested in learning about issues of discrimination and privilege in the workplace.
A group that meets regularly (monthly) and works toward specific goals and outcomes, discusses recommended readings and case studies and is involved in the development and delivery of training programs for male faculty who are interested in becoming Allies.
Here are suggested actions that one can take to be an ally for women faculty:
Tell women (and men) faculty that you are an ally
Ask women faculty about their experience with departmental climate, and listen to their answer
Ensure women faculty members have equal opportunity to speak during meetings
Ensure women faculty are invited to informal departmental gatherings
Talk to women faculty about their research
Nominate qualified women for awards, honors, and positions
Volunteer to serve on promotion, tenure, faculty search, and other committees with specific purpose of being an ally for gender equity
This workshop explored the factors that underlie underrepresentation of women faculty in the STEM academic workplace and the arguments for the changes needed in the academy in order for women to fully participate. Participants were engaged in active discussions which were culminated in highlighting actions and what participants could do to get started.
Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing by Corbett and Hill explores the factors that underlie underrepresentation of women in the engineering and computing workplace. This repost argues for changes in the academy in order for women’s full participation. The report emphasizes the need to combat stereotypes and biases, emphasize the social relevance of STEM, cultivating a sense of belonging and changing the environment.
The teaching circle dedicated to systematically reviewed the chapters in the report, connecting the content to RIT and reflecting on action that we could take to change the work environment.
Breakfast brainstorming session among the Advocates and AdvanceRIT Director. Focus of discussion was on programing for the following year, recap of the past year, and possible strategies to expand Advocate and Allies participation.