Motivating Male Allyship

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Since Reframe Women in Tech was founded in 2019 there’s always been something that at first puzzled me but then really started to make me think about why it was happening.

Our event is accessible and as such we run a speaker application process to reach out to first-time and inexperienced speakers and to help create new voices in tech – and we’ve heard from some truly amazing women but – since 2019 we’ve had a grand total of four male speakers and at our Manchester 2023 event we had a speaker line up which was made up entirely of women, a tremendous demonstration of female talent and role models in tech.

But, where are all the men? 

We need male allies/supporters/advocates to be visible and shouting loud and so we were intentional about including allyship and particularly male allyship as themes in our most recent events.

We know the tech industry is male-dominated, I don’t need to share the stats again and I’m not here to talk about the barriers which cause this to be, I want to talk about the reasons we’re not hearing from the men on our stage or in our workplaces and how we can motivate male allyship. 

Don’t pay lip service

Allyship is a hot topic, and many organisations want to be seen to be focusing on it, or at least the wider topic of Diversity and inclusion,  I will caveat by saying that many organisations ARE focusing on these topics, taking action and creating change but there are also organisations where D&I is on the agenda, perhaps with good intentions but the impetus to drive change isn’t really there. You don’t have to go far to find a man heading up women in tech agenda or diversity initiative and so you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re surrounded by male allies.

More likely it’s because there are more men in tech and more men in leadership positions,  this doesn’t automatically mean they’re suited to driving this sort of change and it doesn’t automatically mean they’re an ally either.

It’s not just a buzzword

Male allyship is a call to action, a commitment to rewriting the narrative around women in tech and recognising that diversity fuels innovation. Being a male ally is not just about being a ‘ nice man’ in the tech industry, allies are the ones who refuse to be bystanders and who understand that dismantling barriers for women is a necessity.

The tech industry is all about solving problems, pushing boundaries and a future which goes beyond the limits of what have previously been set. Research consistently tells us that diverse teams are more innovative and perform better. Male allies by championing diversity aren’t just supporting women, they’re creating a new wave of creativity and diversity of thought that will become the norm for an industry which is currently male-dominated.

Practical Motivation

What does male allyship look like then? It’s amplifying the voices of female colleagues, ensuring their ideas are heard and acknowledged. It’s actively listening, endorsing and giving credit where it’s due, it’s shouting about an issue which doesn’t affect you but which affects your female colleagues and which if addressed will improve their life and work, it’s challenging biases, it’s speaking up when another man wouldn’t and it’s about education, taking the time to learn what really impacts the women in your team, in your workplace and in your community and understanding that you have the power to create real change.

Are you a man in tech? Do you want to be a male ally, it’s ok not to have the answers. To not know how to take initial action or what to say or not say. If you are not sure where to start, here are some actions you might want to consider.

Start a conversation: Speak to a woman in your team or network: simple yet effective, ask them about the issues that are affecting them right now

Reflect and Check: Reflect on your actions and behaviours, and challenge any stereotypes or assumptions you may hold. Continuous self-awareness is a crucial part of effective allyship.

Challenge Bias: Be vigilant about bias that may exist in your workplace, address it assertively, challenge inappropriate behaviours or comments and advocate for fair treatment. 

Educate Yourself: Read, listen and learn, engage in content from women (and men) on the topic, why not start with this keynote address from Reframe Women in Tech London featuring allyship experts Lee Chambers and Carlotta Zorzi. 


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