Men At Top Business Schools Tackle Sexism
If you see people around your campus wearing t-shirts with a “22” on them, they’re “male allies.”
The “22” is a reminder of the .22 cent wage gap between what women and men earn on the dollar. The group is part of a “male ally” program that advocates for gender equality. Male students sign a pledge advocating for the eradication of sexism within the classroom and the corporate world.
Christopher Skayne is a recent graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he helped to start the school’s male ally program. When Skayne was 24, he witnessed a senior manager attempt to set up junior female employees on dates with the boss’s friends. Skayne tells Forbes it was the first time he saw how deeply embedded sexism is in the corporate world. He says the program is a way to raise awareness among well-intentioned men in order to level the playing field in the classroom and the corporate world.
“I just saw this as a way maybe to raise awareness among people who, if they knew it was going on, would act differently and act more conscious of this issue,” Skayne tells Forbes.
The “male ally” organization originated at University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Patrick Ford and Mike Matheson launched the “Manbassadors” in 2015 as a way to raise awareness among men regarding gender inequality.
“I believe that as men, it’s our responsibility to become more aware of our unconscious biases around gender, learn ways to mitigate this conditioning, and take action in to address unintentional discrimination,” Ford says.
Members of the “Manbassadors” at Berkeley-Haas send out weekly emails that “include an anecdote from a current female student, tips and links to research on unconscious bias.” They hold monthly meetings, or “guy talk” sessions, where members discuss what’s going on in class and address questions regarding sexism.
Now, almost every top U.S. business school has or is working to develop a version of the “manbassador” program. At most schools, male allies work with women leadership organizations to build a conversation. Emily Gordon is a second year student at Berkeley-Haas. She is one of the leaders of the Manbassador program at Berkeley. She says including men in the conversation is an important step to building a more equal world.
“I’ve had some really strong male role models and mentors in both my work and personal life,” Gordon tells Forbes. I think bringing men into the conversation is a really critical piece of the puzzle of moving this issue along and bringing us towards a more equitable world and workplace.”