Shifting the Spectrum of Male Engagement in Gender Equity

25 March 2020

The workshop ‘Shifting the Spectrum of Male Engagement in Gender Equity’ took place at the Catalysing Gender Equity Conference on 21 February 2020. The workshop summary report follows.

Facilitators: Professor Jo Ward, Christine Gunson (SAGE WA Regional Network)

Objective/s: The aim of this workshop was to increase the engagement of a minority of resistant or less engaged men (and women) with the changes needed to achieve gender equality.  This will be achieved by developing responses to several presented scenarios that will increase engagement rather than disengage. These responses (and those for other scenarios that will follow) will be used to develop a resource to assist staff to respond to such situations: ‘If this, then that …?’

Workshop summary: The session opened with a reference to the Bain report Better Together to reinforce the aim of this session. The keynote speaker Professor Steve Wesselingh (SAMRHI) told the group he did not believe there was widespread ‘push-back’ and that referring to macro level system policies could defuse the incidents of push back or backlash so they are not taken so personally. “I do not hear passionate opposition to gender equity.  Men do see an unfairness at a micro-level where merit is not the decision base”.  It is likely that supportive men in leadership roles may be unaware of how this backlash presents because it is less likely to occur in their presence.

Group discussion focussed on specific scenarios or vignettes that came from the direct experience of the regional network members. These described interpersonal interactions with resistant colleagues related to promotion panel outcomes, gender pay gap, part-time work, recruitment decision, affirmative recruitment criteria, manager engagement and women only events.

Participants were given a draft ‘Gender Equity Fast Facts‘ resource, and invited to comment on its usefulness in developing potential responses to presented scenarios.

The participants, in the main, reported strong recognition of the vignettes and many had experienced similar situations. The group discussions were robust and structured towards coming up with suggestions about …If this ..,. then that….

Ideas and scripts from the groups’ output provide valuable input for the development of the proposed resource for staff. This will be further developed — borrowing the ‘rehearsing narratives’ approach from social psychology.

There has been strong interest following the workshop in the proposed resource. The WARN is happy to take further submissions towards this – for example, suggestions about other scenarios that should be considered (and how they might be responded to). It is happy to share the vignettes discussed at this workshop to assist with this.

The Network also welcomes input about the usefulness of the Gender Equity Fast Facts document –What’s useful? What’s missing?

The agreed goal is to further develop these resources that will then be shared via the SAGE website.

Next steps:

  • Refine the presented vignettes and a selection of the best responses into a set of guidelines/ rehearsal narratives.
  • Add vignettes and responses – input from WARN members and from other sources (eg other workshop attendees or RNs).
  • Further refine the Gender Equity Fast Facts resource to support self-help development of additional scenarios.
  • Publish these resources via the SAGE website.