How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

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How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:12 pm

Fishnut and squeak made some great posts about how men can make the workplace less hostile to women. I'll post copies of them.

Please make your own suggestions and share your experiences.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:12 pm

fishnut wrote: Intervening when you see harassment/assault occurring
I saw some really interesting advice on Twitter in the days following the discovery of Sarah Everard's body. If you see someone being harassed, don't go up to the harasser and say "stop", go up to the harasser and pretend you know them. "Hi, long time no see. Didn't we go to school together? What have you been up to?" or something. Distract and disarm them, and let the woman get away. You can always apologise for the mistaken identity, but the key is to give the woman the opportunity to escape. If you've misread the situation then a simple apology for mistaken identity will end things pretty quickly.

A female colleague or friend tells you someone you know is creepy
First off, believe them. We have spent most of our lives honing our 'gut instinct' to identify and avoid creepy guys. Then, I'd recommend watching the creepy guy and seeing if you can identify what they see. If you can't, that isn't because they are lying, but because you haven't developed your skills yet. Keep trying to see the world through our eyes. If you see creepy guy being creepy then call them out. If creepy guy is a work colleague then I'd recommend keeping a record of incidents and depending on the frequency and severity report to HR or their manager. If you're their manager then speak to them (following any office policies). It doesn't have to be anything formal, just a friendly word of advice that they will hopefully heed. If they don't then it may need escalating. If it's a friend then you don't need a paper trail, just speak to them privately and let them know that their behaviour is making - unnamed - female friends uncomfortable and they need to be more mindful of their behaviour. If they continue to creep out your female friends then reconsider your friendship. Consequences are important.

Recognise that just because you don't see the dodgy behaviour it doesn't mean it isn't happening. Harassers and abusers are clever. They know how to put up fronts and keep people on their side. I recommend reading this piece to get some insight into how serious workplace harassment can occur.

[...]

How to interact with women respectfully
In professional situations act professionally:
- do not proposition them unless you have received clear signals that they are interested.
- don't steel our ideas - if we say something in a meeting that gets ignored despite being good, don't claim it as your own, say "I thought that fishnut's idea about x was really good, maybe we should try that"
- keep a check on your attitudes. If your female boss gives you a tight deadline or something, do you silently call her a bitch? If a female colleague comes to you with a problem do you dismiss her concerns or do you take them seriously? If a female colleague makes a mistake do you make a bigger deal of it that you would if it were a male colleague's mistake? Do you complain about female colleagues in gendered ways?
- keep a check on the attitudes of male colleagues - do they do any of the above? If so, call them out.

In all situations:
- do not touch a woman without consent.
- recognise the power imbalance that comes with size and strength. What you see as a reassuring holding of a hand can be felt as someone ready to restrain you.
- don't talk over us.

How to talk to men about this stuff
- Normalise discussions about sex and relationships. Not in the "hur hur I'd like to f.ck that ass" lad way, but in a way that allows the expression and recognition of emotions and that it's ok to have them!
- recognise toxic masculinity exists and call it out when you see it in your own interactions. By 'call it out' I don't mean be aggressive, but acknowledge it and if possible have a discussion about why they have said what they said.
- recognise and try to reject oneupmanship and encourage your friends to do the same.
- if your friends are all men then ask yourself why - are you actively excluding women or are you making them unwelcome?
- in your all-male groups keep an eye out for causal denigration of women - body-shaming women, rating them, saying whether or not you'd have sex with them, calling them bitches, dismissing their views, saying they overreact or are hysterical, etc - and if you see it call it out.
- if you have friends who think that the gender pay gap is bollocks, or women exaggerate the amount of harassment they receive, or whatever, then have a conversation with them. Do the research on these issues, come back armed with evidence, and show them they're wrong. It's a conversation, not an argument, and it won't be done in one day, but take the time and you can change minds.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:13 pm

squeak wrote:In the spirit of practical things men here might be able to do when all your friends and colleagues are nice guys...

I'm pretty sure that none of the men on this thread have worked in any of the same institutions as me but the settings should be very familiar to you all. So, here's a couple of things that the nice men around me at work could have noticed but didn't.

Setting one: the summer I had to get my thoughtful and kind field assistant to chaperone me in the lab. When I explained why, his immediate response was "Person X??!! Surely not! He's lovely and wouldn't do anything like that!" Then he started watching X's behaviour and rapidly realised how creepy he was being, frequently when there were only three of us in a room. The behaviour was not particularly hidden and it happened in front of a thoroughly civilised young man who was nonetheless completely oblivious. There are probably really nice men in your workplace who at least some of the women have to avoid because we don't get to be oblivious. Perhaps watch the interactions around you and see who needs watching/intervention. It almost certainly won't involve something obvious like a woman being grabbed or manhandled in the middle of your office.

Setting 2: By the end of my PhD, three senior men across two institutions had been forced to offer me formal apologies for their public bullying of me and two of them got permanent notes on their employment records. I made one complaint myself but the other two happened because senior women saw it happen and intervened themselves. One of the situations was in a conference, with a second go-around in a packed hallway where I was surrounded by male colleagues who either didn't know what to do or thought the behaviour was ok. Fortunately, the female head of school was standing behind him and made clear to him in public that his behaviour was unacceptable and privately encouraged me to make it formal so she could finally deal with him. I lost count of the number of students, admin staff, and female academics who then thanked me and told me about the times he'd made them cry in front of everyone during meetings or student presentations. Hundreds of men must have watched him do this over the years, mostly to women, and none of them intervened. My delightfully kind male PhD supervisor, whose wife had been bullied by this man for years, thought this was just the ordinary cut and thrust of academia. It was not.

So, in your world, you might like to think about that person who likes to skewer students. Are they going beyond what's necessary to check someone's work? Are there kinder ways they could be asking those questions? Are they being even-handed in who gets skewered? If it's at a conference/formal presentation, can you publicly volunteer to talk to the target outside the main event about the topic of their talk, so as to short-circuit the rant? And even if you can't tackle the bully directly, you can check in with the target afterwards. Do they need to hear that their work is actually good? Or fixable? Do they need to know that the behaviour is unacceptable and that you'd be a willing witness if they wanted to complain to a supervisor?

Finally, one not directly from me. In Obama's white house, the women made a pact to amplify each other's ideas because they routinely got ignored in meetings. Also, there's a bunch of research that suggests that when women get 30% of airtime in any discussion, both men and women perceive that to be equal time between the genders. No matter how enlightened we think we are, a woman speaking is routinely seen as taking up more space than she actually is.

Having read both those things and knowing that I'm a genuinely loud voice in meetings, I try really hard now to repeat and acknowledge the voices of quieter people (in my world this is often people from non-English speaking backgrounds, as well as women). Can you make that your special mission in work meetings? And in online meetings, where the conversational flow is often a bit odd, you can do that in the chat window, which will often bring the topic back into the main conversation if someone's railroaded over the top of it. E.g. "I really like Sarah's idea to XXXX. Can we talk about how to make that happen?"

Sometimes I make an make an artificial rule for myself, like "in this meeting, I will ask two quiet people what they think about something we discuss" or "in this meeting, I will make sure I vocalise and acknowledge two contributions from usually sidelined people". I find those useful tricks to force myself to branch out beyond my usual rut, which I want to do because I know that my usual rut was formed in a very sexist and racist society.

Is any of that helpful to anyone who wants to be an ally but feels as though this stuff doesn't happen around you?

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:45 pm

One from me.

Think about who is involved in activities and see it as a problem if there aren't any women, or if they're in a minority. If it looks like that's going to happen, think about the women you could include. Be creative. Sometimes all it takes is that extra few seconds to think beyond the same set of men you'd usually choose.

But don't be counterproductive. Don't include a woman just for the sake of gender balance if she's not going to play a meaningful role. Imposter syndrome is bad enough without someone actually being far less qualified than the others present. You should also avoid putting pressure on women to take part. If a team involves 14 men and 1 women, she is going to be burdened with a load of extra unwanted work if she has to take part in everything. If either of these situations arise your organization needs to recruit more women.

Its a big problem if men are in the positions of authority, or are the ones doing high profile, important or otherwise valued tasks within an organization.
This may take some time to solve, but you can point out that its a problem and ask what is going to be done. Its especially important to ensure that decisions about recruitment and promotions are not run by the men.

For academics, think about who you're citing. If its a long list of the same men you usually cite, think about citing some of the women who also made an important contribution to the field.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Fishnut » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:04 pm

If you're in a meeting that needs notes to be taken, don't automatically assume that one of the women in the meeting will do it and certainly don't suggest that one of them does it. Why not offer to take them yourself instead? Note-taking often falls to women and it leads to them being seen as admin rather than full members of the discussion.

If you have regular meetings where a note-taker is needed, either get someone who's job it is to take minutes to sit in or, in the likely case that isn't possible, set up a rota so that everyone shares in the role.
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:11 pm

Another one.

Think about workplace social events.

Don't make them all about alcohol. There is a strong association between alcohol consumption and abusive behaviour by men. Alcohol doesn't make men become abusive. But it lowers inhibitions and provides a social cover for bad behaviour ("he didn't mean it, he was pissed"). I'm not suggesting that everything should be teetotal. But a drink with food will probably be less likely to turn into a threatening atmosphere than an open bar all evening.

Think about the timing and location of social events. Unfortunately women still preform the majority of care for family and friends. Women with caring responsibilities may not be able to stay out late in the evening, or may have to make major sacrifices to do so. Events during working hours might be a lot easier to attend. Think about how women are going to get home. Lengthy journeys alone and late at night on public transport may not be welcome.

Think about your expectations for social events. If they are assumed to be an essential part of building a team then make sure they aren't in environments where men feel much more comfortable than women (that goes well beyond obvious things like strip clubs). If they're that important they should be held during normal working hours.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:18 pm

Last for now.

Man have a tendency to turn discussions into willy waving contests. My idea is bigger than yours competitions. Resist that temptation. If you've spoken once already let other people talk. If an idea is genuinely crap you can probably make your objections noted in other ways later.

A good way to stop other people doing that is to make sure that meetings have a chair. If people want to speak they need to notify the chair, and the chair decides who gets to talk. Make sure the chair isn't an a..eh.le.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:23 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:04 pm
If you're in a meeting that needs notes to be taken, don't automatically assume that one of the women in the meeting will do it and certainly don't suggest that one of them does it. Why not offer to take them yourself instead? Note-taking often falls to women and it leads to them being seen as admin rather than full members of the discussion.

If you have regular meetings where a note-taker is needed, either get someone who's job it is to take minutes to sit in or, in the likely case that isn't possible, set up a rota so that everyone shares in the role.
Also, its a problem if a woman usually tidies up coffee cups and other detritus.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Squeak » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:28 pm

Thank you chops, for starting this thread, and fishnut for all your work in corralling resources and strategies.

Based on the conversations here, I deliberately steered the lunch conversation at work yesterday to how we prevent bullying. It ended up with two fairly senior men sharing war stories about some of the sh.t they've seen, times they've tried to intervene, and asking me what I think about to stop "that" person from bullying students/junior academics in public. A bunch of PhD students were in the tea room towards the end of the conversation and we got a few curious glances. I hope it sent the right messages to hear staff brainstorming strategies to prevent bullying.

It felt good for me and I hope it was useful for my colleagues.

Separately, I've thought of another potentially useful tip, that's closely related to many of the others shared. One of my lovely friends has noticed that people ask him for ideas/invite him to do things/credit him for things, when those invitations and credits should be going to his female boss. So, he's made it a small project to bounce stuff upstairs whenever he thinks people have forgotten about who needs the credit. It's basically the same kind of pushing you'd hope a good supervisor would give for a junior, but in reverse because too many people overlook the senior person in their professional hierarchy. (Apparently she is super competent, just distressingly female.) This relies on Rob actively turning down opportunities that flow to him unfairly, so it takes some discipline and personal cost. Ironically, knowing that he does that makes me want to recruit Rob onto all my projects. Oops.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Fishnut » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:29 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:23 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:04 pm
If you're in a meeting that needs notes to be taken, don't automatically assume that one of the women in the meeting will do it and certainly don't suggest that one of them does it. Why not offer to take them yourself instead? Note-taking often falls to women and it leads to them being seen as admin rather than full members of the discussion.

If you have regular meetings where a note-taker is needed, either get someone who's job it is to take minutes to sit in or, in the likely case that isn't possible, set up a rota so that everyone shares in the role.
Also, its a problem if a woman usually tidies up coffee cups and other detritus.
Also, think who arranges the birthday cakes and leaving cards/presents. I can't think of a single time I've seen a man in charge who didn't immediately delegate it to one of the women. Don't do that. One reason why women find it harder to get promoted is because you keep sticking all the office niceity stuff on us and we don't have as much time to excel in our actual job. Same goes for who arranges kitchen cleaning rotas, tea money, flowers when someone is sick, Christmas decorations to make the office look festive and so on. These things don't just happen by magic!
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:51 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:29 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:23 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:04 pm
If you're in a meeting that needs notes to be taken, don't automatically assume that one of the women in the meeting will do it and certainly don't suggest that one of them does it. Why not offer to take them yourself instead? Note-taking often falls to women and it leads to them being seen as admin rather than full members of the discussion.

If you have regular meetings where a note-taker is needed, either get someone who's job it is to take minutes to sit in or, in the likely case that isn't possible, set up a rota so that everyone shares in the role.
Also, its a problem if a woman usually tidies up coffee cups and other detritus.
Also, think who arranges the birthday cakes and leaving cards/presents. I can't think of a single time I've seen a man in charge who didn't immediately delegate it to one of the women. Don't do that. One reason why women find it harder to get promoted is because you keep sticking all the office niceity stuff on us and we don't have as much time to excel in our actual job. Same goes for who arranges kitchen cleaning rotas, tea money, flowers when someone is sick, Christmas decorations to make the office look festive and so on. These things don't just happen by magic!
Certainly. If that stuff is needed to maintain a good working environment then it should be a defined part of someone's job, and not something they are expected to do on top of their job. And that job shouldn't always be done by a woman.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by bagpuss » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:59 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:04 pm
If you're in a meeting that needs notes to be taken, don't automatically assume that one of the women in the meeting will do it and certainly don't suggest that one of them does it. Why not offer to take them yourself instead? Note-taking often falls to women and it leads to them being seen as admin rather than full members of the discussion.

If you have regular meetings where a note-taker is needed, either get someone who's job it is to take minutes to sit in or, in the likely case that isn't possible, set up a rota so that everyone shares in the role.
Beat me to it. And it took me so long to write this post that some of the points have already been made but I'm damned if I'm deleting them now...

On a similar note, if you're having a bigger meeting that involves refreshments or, as our company did in the before times, bring and share social lunches or other food/drink-based activities, don't leave it to the women to put out the food, make drinks and (my biggest bugbear) clear up afterwards. It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise reasonably enlightened men seem to just disappear without thought for who is going to wash up/stack the dishwashers, clear away the extra food, wipe the tables, etc. This isn't just a moan about women having to do more - it perpetuates the idea of women in "menial" roles and men whose work is more important than that of the women, so they have to rush back to it first.


If you're recruiting new employees, make an extra conscious effort to try to avoid gender (and race and anything else) bias. If your organisation has strict rules about assessing/scoring candidates and so on then you're probably already doing this but many companies do not. I'm pretty sure it's no coincidence that, in the days when our analytics team was more than 2 people, we were mostly female when we had a female boss and then when she left and was replaced by a man, the team swung rapidly the other way - with him recruiting just one female contractor but 2 male contractors and several male permanent staff. They were all good people, neither manager recruited bad candidates, but they may very well not have chosen the best candidates for the roles as a result.


Similarly, if you're evaluating people for promotion, ask yourself if you're using the same criteria for a woman that you would use for a man. There's a known bias where men tend to be evaluated on their potential while women are evaluated on performance. I can't prove it but I'm pretty sure I've fallen foul of this one at least once in my career - where a man was given a promotion to lead the team while I was told I needed to go on an assertiveness training course*.


Which leads me to another point - women can be particularly underestimated if they don't shout loudly. I don't necessarily mean this literally, although that can be part of it, it's more a lack of pushing oneself forward or declaring one's achievements. Shouting loudly is not necessarily highly correlated with doing a good job but it often seems that those who shout loudly are the ones who are rewarded. So make a point of valuing different ways of doing things. If a woman just quietly gets things done, perhaps by collaborating with others, this is not a sign of her weakness and inability to do something herself, it's a sign of strength that she finds the best way to get the thing done. Notice that the thing has been done and done well and don't assume that if she's not shouting about it then it's not worth being shouted about.






*He cocked it up badly, pissed off any number of people, didn't know what he was doing and as a result (and being too arrogant to ask the person who knew what she was doing - ie me) almost made a disastrous error which thankfully for all concerned I found out about just in time to prevent it, all the while I was overlooked and sidelined and 6 months later said f.ck 'em and left, at which point I was being begged to stay and I frankly enjoyed telling them that they'd had their chance and blown it and I was off now, thanks very much.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by bagpuss » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:01 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:29 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:23 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:04 pm
If you're in a meeting that needs notes to be taken, don't automatically assume that one of the women in the meeting will do it and certainly don't suggest that one of them does it. Why not offer to take them yourself instead? Note-taking often falls to women and it leads to them being seen as admin rather than full members of the discussion.

If you have regular meetings where a note-taker is needed, either get someone who's job it is to take minutes to sit in or, in the likely case that isn't possible, set up a rota so that everyone shares in the role.
Also, its a problem if a woman usually tidies up coffee cups and other detritus.
Also, think who arranges the birthday cakes and leaving cards/presents. I can't think of a single time I've seen a man in charge who didn't immediately delegate it to one of the women. Don't do that. One reason why women find it harder to get promoted is because you keep sticking all the office niceity stuff on us and we don't have as much time to excel in our actual job. Same goes for who arranges kitchen cleaning rotas, tea money, flowers when someone is sick, Christmas decorations to make the office look festive and so on. These things don't just happen by magic!
I was just reading something the other day (but can I remember where now? can I heck) that made the point that women also tend to be more likely to volunteer to do these kinds of things so one thing that men can do is to step in and actually stop women from volunteering and make sure the labour is more fairly shared, rather than just letting women take it on.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Stephanie » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:03 pm

At one of my workplaces, birthdays were assigned out to everyone. So we'd all have one person who we'd arrange collections and buy for. That made it less reliant on women.
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by bagpuss » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:05 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:03 pm
At one of my workplaces, birthdays were assigned out to everyone. So we'd all have one person who we'd arrange collections and buy for. That made it less reliant on women.
I very much like that idea. Although pity the poor person who got the office incompetent as their birthday organiser.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Rich Scopie » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:14 pm

All this (just about) I agree with.

When it comes to meetings, this cartoon is oh so true (in certain places I've worked). Make sure it's not you (I know you wouldn't)
meeting.jpg
meeting.jpg (141.64 KiB) Viewed 284 times
Regarding the "creepy" guy at work, I once had a female co-worker (different department) tell me she found a close colleague of mine was "creepy". I did take her seriously, I kept an eye out for his behaviour, and realised that actually, her "creepy" was his borderline autistic difficulty with social interaction. I discussed this with her some time later, and she agreed with me - she just hadn't realised. They ended up being good friends.

(Apologies if any terminology I've used is offensive)
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Rich Scopie » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:27 pm

bagpuss wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:59 pm
If you're recruiting new employees, make an extra conscious effort to try to avoid gender (and race and anything else) bias. If your organisation has strict rules about assessing/scoring candidates and so on then you're probably already doing this but many companies do not.
These days I work for a company that provides software for recruiters; agencies, or HR departments. A growing number of our clients are asking us for features to allow them to rate candidates "blind". I.e. initially they don't see the candidate's name, sex, address; anything that isn't directly job related - qualifications, experience etc. In some cases, they want company names redacted, so there's no bias due to working for the "right" company, and no details on schools or universities attended.

So all they get is "Person ABC, with these 'O' levels / GCSEs, these 'A' levels, this degree, this experience using these skills, and for hobbies is interested in m.st.rbation, cruelty to animals and golf".

It's a big step in the right direction.

Cheers,

Rich.
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:44 pm

No. Stop. This thread is heading in completely the wrong direction. Turn around and go back.

When there's the stench of sewage in the Victorian streets, the answer isn't to go round encouraging individual action. "Don't empty your chamber pot out the window on market days". The answer is institutional change and pressuring the powerful to build a massive f.cking sewer to sort the sh.t once and for all.

Same as with climate change: the status quo powers love it when all the talk is about turning one's central heating down a degree and recycling the bottles. Anything that fails to challenge the structure is very welcome to them. We all fell for that one for years, let's not do it again.

The task of forcing institutional change can't be done by amateurs. Workplace inequality needs heavyweight professionals to build the necessary infrastructure. Getting men to volunteer to take minutes? Come on. Face the true size of the mountain and fight the proper fight.

Trade Unions were once the force that moved mountains in the workplace. They were sometimes notoriously sexist though. But that's the scale of the force that needs to be brought to bear. United pressure that challenges the very top of the organisation every single day.
What ever happened to that Trump guy, you know, the one who was president for a bit?

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Stephanie » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:48 pm

Rich Scopie wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:27 pm
bagpuss wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:59 pm
If you're recruiting new employees, make an extra conscious effort to try to avoid gender (and race and anything else) bias. If your organisation has strict rules about assessing/scoring candidates and so on then you're probably already doing this but many companies do not.
These days I work for a company that provides software for recruiters; agencies, or HR departments. A growing number of our clients are asking us for features to allow them to rate candidates "blind". I.e. initially they don't see the candidate's name, sex, address; anything that isn't directly job related - qualifications, experience etc. In some cases, they want company names redacted, so there's no bias due to working for the "right" company, and no details on schools or universities attended.

So all they get is "Person ABC, with these 'O' levels / GCSEs, these 'A' levels, this degree, this experience using these skills, and for hobbies is interested in m.st.rbation, cruelty to animals and golf".

It's a big step in the right direction.

Cheers,

Rich.
I'd heard that blind recruitment didn't always work in terms of gender - this article is about tech, but is worth a read https://www.vox.com/2019/2/20/18232762/ ... york-times
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:28 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:44 pm
When there's the stench of sewage in the Victorian streets, the answer isn't to go round encouraging individual action. "Don't empty your chamber pot out the window on market days". The answer is institutional change and pressuring the powerful to build a massive f.cking sewer to sort the sh.t once and for all.

Same as with climate change: the status quo powers love it when all the talk is about turning one's central heating down a degree and recycling the bottles. Anything that fails to challenge the structure is very welcome to them. We all fell for that one for years, let's not do it again.

The task of forcing institutional change can't be done by amateurs. Workplace inequality needs heavyweight professionals to build the necessary infrastructure. Getting men to volunteer to take minutes? Come on. Face the true size of the mountain and fight the proper fight.

Trade Unions were once the force that moved mountains in the workplace. They were sometimes notoriously sexist though. But that's the scale of the force that needs to be brought to bear. United pressure that challenges the very top of the organisation every single day.
So, this was roughly my initial reaction on the male violence thread. It's a view I have some sympathy with, and in the specific case of global environmental problems I completely agree that individual solutions are pissing in the wind against institutional factors that require top-down solutions.

But having thought about it some more, and read what a lot of women have posted about their day-to-day experiences, I'm no longer so sure that the parallels are that close. Because a lot of what makes workplaces (and other environments) unpleasant actually are individual actions, often thoughtless ones. Maybe I'm being unimaginative, but I can't think of a likely top-down solution that would, say, stop men interrupting women during informal conversations.

To stick with the environmental analogy (which I hope doesn't look like I'm trivialising people's experiences), a more similar situation might be littering. Yes, we need proper infrastructure like litter bins and recycling processes and a closed-loop economy. But, at a local level, even where those things exist, there are people who still drop rubbish, and individual action really can improve the local environment for those that use it. Part of it comes down to ensuring that the structural issues are indeed sorted - are there enough bins? Can local businesses use less disposable packaging? Part of it is education, from TV documentaries through to telling people off (I was very impressed once in Brazil, in a very dodgy area of the city where people get shot on a weekly basis, when a friend called a passerby back to pick up a bottle. He didn't get shot - so maybe I can be bolder about where and when I challenge stuff). Part of it is setting a good example oneself - I've noticed when smoking outside pubs that if I walk over to a bin to put my cigarette end in, other people will do that rather than chucking it on the floor. I'm sure I've seen research that if people see litterpickers they're more likely to use bins.

So I think when we're talking about making lives a bit better for our colleagues, friends and families - as individuals - there's a value in emphasising things we can get on with doing tomorrow. And I don't think there's necessarily a conflict between the two: more men helping to clear up after tea and biscuits shouldn't detract from union membership. I completely agree that solving problems at a big scale is very important, but I'd also like my immediate environs to be better, and to avoid making problems I care about worse.

Rather than getting despondent about little-old-me up against a huge maelstrom of crap, I'm finding reading about things I can be getting on with a bit empowering. (In a sort-of similar way I used to take bagloads of litter out of local reserves, before the pandemic. It makes my local environment and day-to-day experiences a little less depressing, which can also have a multiplicative impact on energy/hope levels going forward). I don't have anything useful to add myself, but I'd like to say "thanks" rather than "stop."
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by lpm » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:07 am

Maybe I'm being unimaginative, but I can't think of a likely top-down solution that would, say, stop men interrupting women during informal conversations.
The top-down solution is for the head of the organisation - during one of many all-hands call/conference/zoom with time devoted to equality - to say "men, stop interrupting women during conversations".
What ever happened to that Trump guy, you know, the one who was president for a bit?

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Wed Mar 31, 2021 6:08 am

The company I work for is very safety conscious. And even though some of our staff work in properly dangerous environments, those of us in offices are generally pretty safe. Nonetheless, the safety consciousness is quite strong within the offices, because the company wants everyone to be thinking about safety.

One of the biggest causes of accidents is people tripping on the stairs (I promise this is going somewhere your honour), and it can be alleviated by holding the handrail. A couple of years ago, work started a "hold the handrail" campaign, the point of which wasn't so much to reduce the number of accidents, which weren't huge, but to give people a simple practice ground on which to challenge others.

The thing is, safety issues, like sexism, are largely cultural. If people start to take the piss, and no one challenges, then quickly you can develop an unsafe culture which can lead to accidents or deaths. Yes, you can create standards and provide equipment and training but sometimes ego or time pressure or inconwenience or other things get in the way and people don't do it.

So the Hold The Handrail campaign was explicitly started as a way of getting people to challenge each other on a relatively minor safety issue that everyone can see, so that when something bigger came along they'd feel more comfortable challenging that instead. Because our rules make it clear that anyone, of any rank, has the right to get work on site to stop immediately if they see anything which isn't safe. But that's hard to do when 55 year old Jeff who all the lads like is telling you to f.ck off and he's done it this way for years.

I wonder if men challenging parts of sexism culture can work similar. Start practising with the small things, get used to challenging other men about interrupting*, or jokes, or all the other smaller cultural suppressions of women. And when you feel happier doing that, you can feel more comfortable moving onto the big stuff, like why our company has only 19% women or why we don't offer equal enhanced parental leave (thus incentivising only women to take a long and potentially stalling career break), or why 16 of the 20 Engagement Champions (volunteers) in my bit of the business are women when only a third of the employees are female, or even why engineering as a whole is such a f.cking shitshow for female employment, and why (curveball) it's largely been left to the women, who have less power overall, to sort all this out.



*I'd just like to say, I f.cking hate interrupting. I really try hard not to do it to anyone, but good f.cking grief it irritates the f.ck out of me. How about EVERYONE doesn't interrupt anyone? Except the really gobby f.ckers, and in my experience they've always been men. Always.
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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by individualmember » Wed Mar 31, 2021 6:29 am

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:44 pm
No. Stop. This thread is heading in completely the wrong direction. Turn around and go back.

When there's the stench of sewage in the Victorian streets, the answer isn't to go round encouraging individual action. "Don't empty your chamber pot out the window on market days". The answer is institutional change and pressuring the powerful to build a massive f.cking sewer to sort the sh.t once and for all.

Same as with climate change: the status quo powers love it when all the talk is about turning one's central heating down a degree and recycling the bottles. Anything that fails to challenge the structure is very welcome to them. We all fell for that one for years, let's not do it again.

The task of forcing institutional change can't be done by amateurs. Workplace inequality needs heavyweight professionals to build the necessary infrastructure. Getting men to volunteer to take minutes? Come on. Face the true size of the mountain and fight the proper fight.

Trade Unions were once the force that moved mountains in the workplace. They were sometimes notoriously sexist though. But that's the scale of the force that needs to be brought to bear. United pressure that challenges the very top of the organisation every single day.
This.

TBH, reading the thread so far, all the stuff about meetings in large organisations, I’m just thinking this doesn’t apply to me. I have worked in an office but (1) I hated it and (2) it was a bl..dy long time ago. I get the impression that nothing has changed in the last 30 years though. The occasions I’m dragged into a meeting are when I mostly see women’s opinions being taken less seriously than men’s opinions and I often find that when the focus comes round to me, my input is invariably ‘she has it right’. It’s very, very obvious to me that being male or female makes absolutely no difference to ones ability to do the job ( there’s many reasons why one person might be better than another but it’s never that) but there are still a lot of men in senior positions who unthinkingly give more weight to the opinions of a man.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by bagpuss » Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:47 am

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:44 pm
No. Stop. This thread is heading in completely the wrong direction. Turn around and go back.

When there's the stench of sewage in the Victorian streets, the answer isn't to go round encouraging individual action. "Don't empty your chamber pot out the window on market days". The answer is institutional change and pressuring the powerful to build a massive f.cking sewer to sort the sh.t once and for all.

Same as with climate change: the status quo powers love it when all the talk is about turning one's central heating down a degree and recycling the bottles. Anything that fails to challenge the structure is very welcome to them. We all fell for that one for years, let's not do it again.

The task of forcing institutional change can't be done by amateurs. Workplace inequality needs heavyweight professionals to build the necessary infrastructure. Getting men to volunteer to take minutes? Come on. Face the true size of the mountain and fight the proper fight.

Trade Unions were once the force that moved mountains in the workplace. They were sometimes notoriously sexist though. But that's the scale of the force that needs to be brought to bear. United pressure that challenges the very top of the organisation every single day.
There's room for both, in fact both are essential. As BoaF said, a lot of the day to day crap really are things that individuals can make a difference in. And as EPD said, often starting with the small stuff leads to bigger things.

Of course we need the top down too. It is hugely noticeable in my company how things are improving for everyone, not least women, under our current and relatively new CEO (a man, the female CEO we had before this one was a classic example of a woman getting to the top and doing the square root of f.ck all for all other women in the organisation). We now have a much higher proportion of women in senior and middling positions than in any company I've previously worked for, and many of them are the ones driving company strategy. We're still depressingly white dominated but I'm starting to see more non-white faces doing the presenting on all-company video calls so that's beginning to change too. The speed of change we've seen could never have been achieved without being driven from the top. But the day to day crap, that can definitely be changed by individuals just deciding to do things a bit differently.

BoaF's point about cigarette ends and bins is a good one too and I've seen similar myself with rubbish and litter bins in the park/on the beach. One person behaving better can pull others with them, especially people who want to be good and decent people but don't really bother thinking about stuff like this so would never do it themselves without an example in front of them.

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Re: How men can help make workplaces more gender inclusive

Post by bagpuss » Wed Mar 31, 2021 8:01 am

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:48 pm
Rich Scopie wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:27 pm
bagpuss wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:59 pm
If you're recruiting new employees, make an extra conscious effort to try to avoid gender (and race and anything else) bias. If your organisation has strict rules about assessing/scoring candidates and so on then you're probably already doing this but many companies do not.
These days I work for a company that provides software for recruiters; agencies, or HR departments. A growing number of our clients are asking us for features to allow them to rate candidates "blind". I.e. initially they don't see the candidate's name, sex, address; anything that isn't directly job related - qualifications, experience etc. In some cases, they want company names redacted, so there's no bias due to working for the "right" company, and no details on schools or universities attended.

So all they get is "Person ABC, with these 'O' levels / GCSEs, these 'A' levels, this degree, this experience using these skills, and for hobbies is interested in m.st.rbation, cruelty to animals and golf".

It's a big step in the right direction.

Cheers,

Rich.
I'd heard that blind recruitment didn't always work in terms of gender - this article is about tech, but is worth a read https://www.vox.com/2019/2/20/18232762/ ... york-times
That's very interesting, although I think what it says is that blind recruitment definitely does work but only up to a point. The point quite possibly being that with so few women in some parts of tech, people are actually trying harder to recruit experienced women so when they don't know it's a woman, they're being treated equally with the men, instead of being given a preference. So blinding is working against subconscious positive discrimination as well as negative discrimination, which is to be expected.

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