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   Ally Toolkit to Support Men as Allies

Additional Resources for Men as Allies

Anderson, E. M., & Shannon, A. L. (1988). Toward a Conceptualization of Mentoring. Journal of Teacher Education, 39(1), 38–42.

Brandt, T., and Laiho, M. (2013). Gender and personality in transformational leadership context: An examination of leader and subordinate perspectives. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 34(1): 44-66. 

Colley, H. (2003). Mentoring for Social Inclusion: A Critical Approach to Nurturing Mentor Relationships. Routledge.

Gutiérrez y Muhs, G. (2012). Presumed incompetent: The intersections of race and class for women in academia. Boulder, Colo.: University Press of Colorado: Utah State University Press.

Kubu, C.S. (2018). Who does she think she is? Women, leadership and the ‘B’(ias) word. Clinical Neuropsychologist, 32(2): 235-251. 

Prime J, Moss-Racusin CA. Engaging men in gender initiatives: what change agents need to know. New York: Catalyst, 2009 (https://www.catalyst .org/ system/ files/ Engaging_Men_In_

Soklaridis, S., Zahn, C., Kuper, A., Gillis, D., Taylor, V. H., & Whitehead, C. (2018). Men’s Fear of Mentoring in the #MeToo Era—What’s at Stake for Academic Medicine? New England Journal of Medicine, 379(23), 2270–2274.

Vanderbroeck, P., and Wasserfallen, J. (2017). Managing gender diversity in healthcare: Getting it right. Leadership in Health Services, 30(1): 92-100.  

Wanner, T., and Wadham, B. (2015). Men and Masculinities in International Development: ‘Men-streaming’ Gender and Development? Developmental Policy Review, 33(1): 15-32. 


Ally: Being an ally involves someone from a privileged group actively engaged in an on-going process of deconstructing their own privilege ( Case, 2013). Ally-ship is an ongoing process of learning and unlearning. In the context of women in science, men from all backgrounds can actively listen to and learn about how to create supportive environments for women in public sector science environments. Additionally, white women can learn about white privilege and work towards ally-ship with racialized and Indigenous women (see Indigenous Women and Two Spirit People). 

Equity: Rodriguez (2016) explains that equity “refers to the enactment of specific policies and practices that ensure equitable access and opportunities for success for everyone” (p. 243). Often, we may conflate equity and equality, which can be detrimental to meeting and surpassing our diversity and inclusion goals. Rodriguez speaks to the difference between equity and equality when she writes that, “in order to be equitable, we cannot treat everyone the same. To be equitable, we must treat individuals according to their needs and provide multiple opportunities for success” (p. 243).

In the context of health sciences, for example, equity would have us provide childcare for scientists travelling with children, even though others may not need such services. Resources and policies do not need to be equal to be equitable.

Gender is our socially constructed behaviours, roles, and identities about girls, boys, women and men and gender diverse people. Gender can be thought of as a spectrum. Other gender identities are Two Spirit, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer and gender fluid; however, this list is not complete. Gender influences, and is influenced by, the distribution of power and resources in society. To read more about sex and gender research, refer to the Reading List at the end of this Toolkit. The “gender binary” is the idea that there are only two genders and that they are psychologically and physically distinct (Hyde et al., 2019). This widespread misconception about a gender binary continues to influence all aspects of scientific inquiry, including medical, psychological, and natural sciences.

Gender leadership gap refers to the difference between women and men’s attainment of leadership positions. Regardless of women’s predominance in an occupational field, men are more likely to occupy leadership positions, or positions of authority and decision-making. 

Implicit Biases “are discriminatory biases based on implicit attitudes or implicit stereotypes. Implicit biases are especially intriguing, and also especially problematic, because they can produce behavior that diverges from a person's avowed or endorsed beliefs or principles.” 

Imposter syndrome is “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”

Inclusion: According to Jordan (2011), “inclusion puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection—where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create business value. Organizations need both diversity and inclusion to be successful.” Mor Barak (2014) states that “[t]he concept of inclusion-exclusion in the workplace refers to the individual’s sense of being a part of the organizational system in both the formal processes, such as access to information and decision-making channels, and the informal processes, such as “water cooler” and lunch meetings where information exchange and decisions informally take place” (p. 155). An inclusive workplace goes beyond employing people from diverse backgrounds (racial, class, gender, nationality, religion, ability, etc.). Workplace inclusion involves being attuned to the organizational climate, as well as the “unwritten rules” that maintain workplace culture. If socializing amongst colleagues, for example, often takes place after office hours, and in bars or pubs, parents with young children and people who do not drink (for religious, health or other reasons) may not feel comfortable or supported by the organization.

Mentorship: One definition of mentorship is: a supportive “process in which a more skilled or more experienced person, serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels, and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person for the purpose of promoting the latter’s professional and/or personal development. Mentoring functions are carried out within the context of an ongoing, caring relationship” (Anderson, 1987 cited in Anderson & Shannon 1988). Mentors can serve the following five functions: teaching, sponsoring, encouraging, counselling, and befriending.

Racism is "encompassing economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources and power between white people and people of color (Hilliard, 1992)...Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over people of color" (DiAngelo, 2011, p. 56).

Sexism refers to the selectively unjustified negative behaviour against women, girls, and anyone not identifying as a man. Sexism is a term that is particularly used to denote discrimination against women and girls. Research has suggested there are four levels of sexism — individual, social/structural, institutional, and cultural — that interact with each other. 

Settler colonialism “is defined by a territorial project  – the accumulation of land – whose seemingly singular focus differentiates it from other types of colonialism... Because ‘Indigenous’ peoples are tied to the desired territories, they must be ‘eliminated’; in the settler-colonial model, ‘the settler never leaves’ (1999, 2006)” (from Patrick Wolfe, cited in Simpson, 2014, p. 19). 

Sponsorship is an integral part of mentorship, but not all mentors take this approach. “Sponsoring involves being a kind of guarantor. Sponsoring within the context of mentoring involves three essential behaviors: protecting, supporting, and promoting” (Anderson & Shannon, 1988). 

Tokenism is “. . . the practice of making only a token effort or doing no more than the minimum, especially in order to comply with a law” (Collins English Dictionary, 2003, “Tokenism”).  “Tokenism is most likely to occur when members of the minority group in any situation account for fewer than 15 percent of the total” (Gutiérrez y Muhs, 2012, p. 449). 

White privilege is “inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. unearned over advantage and conferred dominance.” White privilege works systematically to confer dominance on white people because of their race (McIntosh, 2003). 


Borrero‐Mejias, C., et al. (2019). Eleven Things Not to Say to Your Female Colleagues. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 59(10), 1846–1854. 

McClean, E. J., Martin, S. R., Emich, K. J., and Woodruff, T. (2018) The Social Consequences of Voice: An Examination of Voice Type and Gender on Status and Subsequent Leader Emergence. Academy of Management Journal, 61, 1869–1891, 

Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Wiley.