Women at Work: A Guide for Men


This is an excellent piece on the WSJ about changes that men, and especially senior men, can make in the workplace to improve equality. And it’s not just about flexible working hours and maternity pay. 

[…] I set out to discover what frustrates and perplexes professional men about the women they work with. My goal was to get to the bottom of issues that men face every day: why women often don’t speak up at meetings, why they can seem tentative when they do speak up, why there are so few qualified women in the management pipeline despite good-faith efforts to recruit them.

And then I went in search of solutions. I sought out male executives who are getting it right. And I drew on the two-plus decades that I’ve spent covering mostly male executives around the globe while working in male-dominated environments. 

The point isn’t to blame men. In my view, there has been way too much man-shaming as it is. My aim instead is to demystify women.

This is a really, really interesting piece. I’ve always wanted to try to find a way to engage more men in Ada Lovelace Day. In the tech world, many of the earliest supporters of the day were geek dads with daughters, men who wanted to make sure that the joy and opportunities that technology made possible for them were also available to their daughters. In science, engineering and maths, I have a real issue getting men to engage at all. I wanted next year’s book to have a male:female ratio of 50:50, but in the end we have one male contributor and he contributed a book that will have been out for over a year by the time ours is published. Men just weren’t interested. I think that’s something we really have to change. 


Count me in.



There are two things that spring to mind, from my experience with Athena swan and other things.

  1. it has to be about everybody, not just women. People from different cultures, LGBT, and anyone who perceives themselves to
    Be in a minority in a workplace, may have communication issues within the group. So the discussion about equality for women has to be framed less as an enabling action for women (even though that’s what it is) but as something that, while focussed on women, benefits everyone. It may be easier to engage men in that discussion.

  2. men (and women) all have to “get over” any feeling that they are being personally targeted. We all have unconscious bias, and no-one is being personally targeted for “being sexist” (unless that can be proved, of course!). But we have to move the debate on from saying “but I’m gender blind”, “I’m not sexist” etc to accepting that it’s there, it happens, and we need to find ways of stopping those unconscious biases from operating. But absolutely key to that is engaging with the fact that they do, and challenging your own behaviour.

It’s that very last point that is the problem, IMO. We surveyed our students recently, and the male students did not think there were barriers to women’s progression. The female students did… That’s a very interesting disconnect, and goes some way to explaining why men get a bit surprised at how deeply felt the views of people like me are.




[note to self - logged]