5 Ways Men Can Advocate for Women in Technology and the Workplace

We've cherry-picked the top 5 tips and tricks for male advocates for women in tech, educated by NCWIT's 45 in-depth interviews with male employees in technology organizations or departments. By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

The LGBT community have many allies. Conferences produced by an organization named Black Founders are incredibly ethnically and gender diverse. So how can men working in technology and business support their female coworkers and future colleagues?

The resourceful National Center for Women in Technology has drawn up 10 ways to be a male advocate for technical women. Here are the top 5 tips:

#1 - Listen to Women's Stories

That's right. Women's events often do not bar men from attending, and the Women 2.0 readership includes some very vocal men in the community!

Listening to both sides of the table is crucial to better understanding of situations and is a step toward breaking out of the bubble of white/male privilege many are in.

#2 - Talk to Other Men

When the Adria Richards situation happened at PyCon this year, many wondered why other men sitting around didn't raise an eyebrow or spoke up "hey that's not cool" or simply say "shh.."

Aside from manning up and speaking up, men should be free and open to discuss issues amongst themselves: Did you read Lean In? How is your company succeeding in recruiting and hiring women? What do you think of the record number of women speaking at and attending technical conferences like PyCon?

#3 - Seek Out Ways to Recruit Women

Etsy ponied up scholarships to incentivize women to participate in New York's Hacker School, with the goal of recruiting from the graduates. Companies can invest in hacker schools, and target the women who attend them, by sponsoring their tuition, room & board and by providing mentors of both genders for the schools (see #5 below).

#4 - Increase the Number and Visibility of Women Leaders

Conferences with a female bent (ie. she++, Women 2.0) have rolodexes filled with women leaders. Do yourself a favor and steep yourself in a roomful of inspiring, motivated women who gather to listen to these women leaders share their thought leadership.

#5 - Mentor and Sponsor Women

Women oft ask for mentors. One thing men can do is simply verbally volunteer to help - professional development, code review, provide a referral to a job. NCWIT suggests:

While female role models are important, women actually benefit greatly from powerful male mentors. These mentoring relationships should be tailored to the individual's needs, but two common suggestions are helping women navigate "hidden rules" in the organization and making technical women's accomplishments more visible in the organization.

Both men and women who are software engineers can sign up to be mentors at Hackbright Academy, for example. A school exclusively for women learning software engineering, the mentors are 50% men and 50% women who enjoy giving back to the tech community.

Disclosure: I also work at Hackbright Academy.

Women 2.0 readers: What can men do to help advance women in the workforce and tech industry specifically? Let us know in the comments below.

Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.