In 2015, RIT was awarded funding to launch an Advocates & Allies program through funding from the National Science Foundation Grant No.1500604, "Engaging Male Colleagues in Institutional Transformation for the Advancement of Women Faculty." The Advocates & 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.

The main goals of the program are:

Introduce faculty men to strategies for bringing about positive change in their department and colleges

Build a supportive network of faculty men who are Advocates and Allies for all faculty

Educate faculty men about issues related to gender equity in academia

Tips for Being an Ally

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

Advocates & Allies

Over 50 RIT faculty men have attended Ally training over the first year of the program's existence at RIT, and take action primarily within their own department. Some of the most prevalent duties of these allies are:

  • Speaking up at meetings regarding gender diversity and equity
  • Invite female colleagues to collaborate on research
  • Nominate female colleagues for awards
  • Serving on a committee as gender equity proponent in place of their female colleagues to reduce the inequity of service loads

Advocates are faculty men who support faculty women by working towards 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.

Program Evaluation

Program evaluation is being led by North Dakota State University and includes the following components.

Formative Evaluation

  1. Observation of the trainings and compiling of ethnographic notes that reflect participants reactions to the training materials
  2. Evaluation of the trainings for satisfaction, participants’ learning, and participants’ commitments to make behavioral and attitudinal changes.
  3. Interviews with the advocate's coordinator

Summative Evaluation

  1. Review of Faculty Representation by Gender
  2. Pre and post Work-Life/Climate Survey of Engineering Faculty
  3. Pre and post-surveys of male participants to assess changes in their beliefs and commitments to engage in actions that promote gender equity on their campuses
  4. Post surveys of women faculty members in colleges with engaged Advocates to assess changes that they attribute to having an Advocate program

Advocates & Allies PI Team

Advocates & Allies Advisory Board


Advocates - AY 2016

College of Applied Science and Technology

Golisano College of Computing and Information Science

Saunders College of Business

Advocates & Allies


Gender Diversity: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty
Best practices in working with transgender students and colleagues

Overview of Advocates & Allies Includes:

  • Recognizing Male Privilege
  • Individual Actions for Allies
  • References and Recommended Reading

Advocates & Allies Poster
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1500604. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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