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Male Allies: Motivations and Barriers for Participating in Diversity Initiatives in the Technology Workplace

Wendy M. DuBow, Catherine Ashcraft


In the last decade, much funding and research has focused on increasing diversity in the technology workplace; however, for the most part, these efforts have overlooked the role that men and masculinities have to play in creating inclusive work environments. In this study, we draw from interviews with 47 corporate employees who identified as men to examine how they think, talk about, and enact diversity reform in the technology workplace. Our study found support for some potential motivators for men advocating for gender equality that were also identified in prior research, including: 1) personal experiences; 2) the greater economic good; and 3) an ethical commitment to equity. In addition, we found that many of the barriers identified in the literature were also supported, especially the difficulties inherent in: 1) negotiating power and gender dynamics; 2) uncertainty as to how best to be an ally; 3) sustaining ally and advocacy work long-term; and 4) establishing legitimacy as a male advocate. We identify a continuum of factors inhibiting male-ally participation and suggest concrete measures that advocates can take to overcome these challenges and build constituency among men in the workplace.


Gender diversity; computing; industry; male advocates; gender reform, workplace; women and technology; masculinities

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