NCWIT Tips: 8 Ways to Identify Male Advocates


Use these tips to identify likely male advocates. Also use this resource to spark discussion or role-play how you might put these tips into action in your own organization. These ideas and quotes are taken from research NCWIT conducted with males in technical workplaces.




Consider speaking with men who have daughters and/or wives who have worked in the workplace.

While not all men who fit this bill will want to become gender advocates, they are often more likely to have had pivotal experiences that predispose them to care about these issues.

I have a daughter and so you know as I look at the stereotype and she’s only 11 but she’s very technically astute and as she approaches her career I look at ensuring that I create a better environment as she goes out there.
~male interviewee

Connect with men who have minority experiences of their own.

These experiences can include being a member of a minority group themselves or more “temporary” minority experiences, such as attending women’s conferences, like Grace Hopper.

You know I used to be in college and you walk into a cowboy’s bar and somebody like me with my skin color, has my accent, you feel out of place very quickly; it’s a similar thing for women. They walk into a room where there is 20 guys, so I sort of understand it.
~male interviewee

Look for male managers who are successful at running productive team environments.

The factors that are important for increasing women’s participation are also about “good management” in general. As a result, managers who run productive, highly functional teams often are well positioned to support diversity efforts.


[I try to] make sure that everybody on my team was successful, knowing each person, individually, rather than thinking, ‘Well, they are all just engineering units to me. No! They are people.’

~male interviewee

Identify men who are already sponsoring or mentoring female employees.

These men may not think about these efforts in terms of promoting diversity. Provide a clear rationale for diversity efforts, and these men are often interested in joining.

But the issue of having diversity for diversity’s sake … I don’t know if that makes any sense, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, I just mean that I support women in the workforce just because they are strong contributors.
~male interviewee

Seek out men who are being held accountable for diversity metrics.

These men may be receptive as they need tools to help them accomplish diversity goals.

At my organization level [on a] quarterly basis, I get a snapshot of diversity, and we measure our results. So we look at every promotion, we look at every hire. And we look across all the levels of leadership all the way up to my level. It’s not a quota‑based model, it’s focus-based model.
~male interviewee

Find men who model and/or encourage their employees to use flexible work arrangements.

While they may not think of this in terms of promoting diversity, they may join diversity efforts if asked.

I’m probably one of the few Vice Presidents to have 5 children, and so trying to balance work and life for me, it’s a very important thing. I really try to set the example, and stay off of email at nights, on the weekend. And people are very clear in where my values are with respect to my family, I think that then that permeates to the organization.
~male interviewee

Look for men who highly value fairness and equity.

This predisposes them to care about these issues in the workplace.


That’s probably at the core of my value system: just treat people the right way, you know in a work setting or otherwise.

You learn things like “treat people the way you would want to be treated,” and I have to say that I saw some things growing up, some racial prejudices and gender prejudices. It didn’t feel right, and so somehow for me it became personal.

~male interviewee

Identify “safe” environments where you can “test the waters.”

Expressing casual comments with male colleagues you trust or who possess some of the characteristics identified above can be a good way to “test the waters” and identify those interested in learning more.

One man commented on the power of these casual comments, “Over time all these little things kept pouring out [such as] “Here’s what it’s like to be in this meeting,” and I was astonished, and that was what really what got me in.”
~male interviewee


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