New Initiative for Male Affiliates

By Ellen Glover

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Next month CEWiT will launch the IU Advocates and Allies Program which is designed to involve male faculty in the transformation of departmental cultures and practices to promote equity. Advocates are male faculty who are educated about issues of gender [in]equity, participate in train the trainer workshops, and who lead structured workshops with faculty colleagues, Allies, to raise awareness about what to watch for and how to be a champion for equity and inclusion for all faculty.

The Allies workshop will kick off on Thursday, September 14 in Bryan House where male faculty who would like to better serve as allies can learn research findings, discuss challenges and learn techniques to use. Seating is limited and those interested can RSVP HERE.

This inaugural workshop will be facilitated by three visiting academics: Roger Green, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Dakota State University; Michael McPherson, an advocate at the University of North Texas’ Advocates and Allies program; and Robert Gordon, who works in the psychology department at Auburn University.

“All three men have been leading these workshops since 2008 when NSF ADVANCE program money first funded the initiative in the school of engineering at North Dakota State University. Since then they have helped launch programs on several campuses and with NSF funding,” says Maureen Biggers, CEWiT Director.  “The CEWiT Faculty Council will serve as the Advocate program advisory group.”

Seven male faculty members participating in the workshop will receive additional training to become Advocates. These advocates will then facilitate future Allies workshops. CEWiT encourages all male faculty, not just those from STEM, to take an interest in this issue. In fact, this year’s advocates come from several fields, including criminal justice, science education and communications. 

“All of these men care about CEWiT and are fully versed and supportive in what we do,” says Jennifer Turrentine, CEWiT Assistant Director of Cross-Alliance Initiatives.

One of the Inaugural IU Advocates, Tom James, is a Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences who has been heavily involved with CEWiT for a couple of years now.

I have learned a lot about gender equity issues in that time,” says James via email. ‘”I learned that, for me, it is was not enough to be passionate about the solving the problem. I learned more about how it feels to be part of a minority group, how it feels to be marginalized. I learned how, as part of the majority group, I can start to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, and how not to create new problems along the way.”

James added: “Personally, I work in a department where the undergraduate enrollment is 70% women, and I would be surprised if our faculty is even 30% women. The men and women in my department consider that an issue, but I'm not confident that the men in my department, me included, know the best way to effect a change.”

Ultimately, the purpose of this initiative is divided into four learning goals: 1) to understand the context of gender inequity on IU’s campus, 2) to be introduced to relevant concepts that affirm the presence of unconscious bias and male privilege, 3) to use specific scenario-based exercises to practice skills, 4) to obtain resources and techniques to assist in personal development and the ability to share it with others.

At the end of all of this, the advocates who went through the training will be knowledgeable enough to teach other male faculty about what they have learned so they can have meaningful conversations about bias and privilege and actions they can take to create a more equitable climate.

“This program is designed to create long-term, institutional change,” says Turrentine.  “As the program evolves, we will broaden our focus on intersectionality as we strive for equity and inclusion for all faculty, staff, and students.”

Visit CEWiT’s Advocates and Allies page to learn more about the program.