For the next wave of gender equality, it is critical that men are involved in the movement. Here are two ways male allies can partner with women to promote gender equality.
Channel the women you empathize
Think about what you want for your daughter, mother, or spouse
Male allies act as a source of inspiration to transfer the care and compassion they have for the strong women in their lives to other women. The men are often selfless in their giving of mentorship, sponsorship, or in how they managed women. They see women as humans just like them, and downplay their extraordinary efforts as ordinary. Yet as I shared this with women, they said they wished there were more men like this.
Male allies, although all around us, are more of a rare breed than they realize. Our belief is that these men see themselves as “normal,” because they have channeled the strong women in their lives subconsciously, seeing the women they work with as extensions of their “normal” reality.
Look for a woman you can positively impact
Male allies succeed best when they are paired with women who are looking for advice, coaching, or guidance in areas that women need or want. The men shared that they aligned themselves with women who leveraged their strengths. By channeling those that you care about, you find other women who can be elevated by your expertise and experience.
Be her ally, not her father
This mantra surfaced throughout much of my research. Women underscored how much they wanted support, guidance, coaching, mentoring, sponsoring, but did not want men to be the knight in shining armor. Although gender socialization teaches us that women, from an early age, want to be saved by men, this notion is exactly the opposite. Do not solve her problems; get obstacles out of her way, but do not do it for her.
Ask for HERStory
Ask her questions
By asking a woman about what she wants, it requires male allies to park their assumptions at the door. This is incredibly important in the workplace, as women often balance caretaking and their professional responsibilities. Men who asked were often surprised to learn their stories and how they could best support her. The powerful questions starting with “what” and “how” yield some amazing insights into male ally partnership.
Focus on her strengths
We’re far more likely to be successful by focusing on our strengths, rather than our weaknesses. Male allies can redirect women to focus on their strengths, rather than worrying about their limitations or lack of experience in an area they want to pursue. By shifting the lens to what is possible, male allies help her eliminate obstacles, real and imagined, and focus forward.
Coach her to success
Self-discovery is a powerful tool. As women, we can often be our own worst enemies and hold ourselves back by focusing on our fears. Male allies facilitate thinking beyond the barriers and hold space for her to find her own path forward. She is far more likely to follow own her plan if she builds it herself, rather than being told what to do.
These are just two ways men can support gender equality. Stay tuned for Part 2 for a few more ways men can get involved.
Originally published on www.nextpivotpoint.com.