A critical component of promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and sense of belonging (DEIS) is deep and meaningful collaboration that enacts allyship. This is a cooperative model whereby people from diverse backgrounds, especially those with power and privilege, join together in solidarity to overcome systems that disadvantage some groups, including unlearning assumptions about what constitutes “help” – particularly the kind that reinforces unwanted power structures.
One research article that explores this point is “Male allyship in institutional STEMM gender equity initiatives.” The article centers on men’s self-understanding as “champions for change,” the barriers and risks of this paradigm, and evolving perceptions among participants in the program. The concept of men as “champions” in gender-equity programs is not uncommon, and one such program is “Male Champions of Change.”
Initially, study participants tended to perceive “champions” as an empowering term that encouraged men’s involvement in social justice work. However, by the second year, participants began to perceive “the gendered positioning of male championship is at odds with gender equity and structural change.” Rather, DEIS is about all of us and we all gain when we remove barriers to equity, including terms and concepts like “champions.”
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