Engaging Men Faculty in Creating Equity for Women STEM Faculty in Academia: WEPAN National Conference

S Alestalo, K Alford, D Cutler, Shobha K Bhatia, Ruhlandt-Senge

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Equity for women engineering faculty is often considered a women’s problem with solutions coming
from women to profit women. Campus transformation leaders must challenge the assumption only
women can lead transformation and that the benefits only accrue to women (Stewart, et al. 2010) for
sustainable change to be made. Therefore it is important to build the case for faculty (women and men)
action. (University Leadership Council 2008). Clearly, equity cannot be achieved without men faculty.
Focus groups were conducted at Syracuse University (SU) to help answer the question; what brings men
faculty to the table as equally inspired transformation leaders?  
To understand the men STEM faculty’s thoughts regarding equity and inclusion focus groups were
conducted at SU in 2009. Using information from the 2009 Catalyst report by Prime, et al., “Engaging
Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know,” a series of questions were designed to
facilitate discussion with SU men and women faculty members in two‐hour, single‐sex groups. A total of
eleven men (two groups) and eight women (one group) faculty from thirteen science and engineering
departments participated in the focus groups.   
Findings can be categorized from individual, departmental and leadership perspectives. Men faculty
were motivated by institutional competiveness, the fit in terms of values, as well as personal
experiences with partners and children. Many of the men participants held or were currently in
leadership positions. These individuals found that the departments did not hold people accountable,
encourage community thinking, nor reward positive behavior. Men faculty leaders found that
addressing the barriers for men’s involvement in fostering equity is not part of leadership training. They
asked; how do they create an inclusive departmental environment? Is my own lack of awareness
contributing to the problem? Women faculty in their focus group noted that departments that function
as a whole not as individuals were more competitive and productive. Building men faculty awareness of
how the current status quo limits departments was considered to be important. Engaging men
engineering faculty in collaboratively building environments that unleash the power of inclusive talent is
essential to the competitive future of engineering departments.  
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2011


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