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Male Privilege Awareness and Relational Wellbeing at Work

Despite the widespread implementation of gender-inclusive practices in the United States, the challenge of workplace gender inequality persists. In response, researchers have advocated for men to engage in allyship – actions to support and advocate for women at work. We recently spoke with Dr. Min Young Yoon from Rider University to discuss her new research published in our flagship journal, Psychology of Men & Masculinities, addressing male allyship as a mechanism for relational wellbeing at work (full cite below).

Yoon, M. Y., Joshi, A., & Dang, C. T. (2023). Male privilege awareness and relational well-being at work: an allyship pathway. Psychology of Men and Masculinities, 24(2), 149–161.

What were the key questions you were addressing in this article?

1) Why are some men motivated to engage in ally behaviors at work while others resist such behaviors?

2) What are the benefits men could accrue from engaging in gender equity efforts?

What were the main conclusions of your article?

Men can reap relational benefits following their enactment of allyship and that male privilege awareness is an important antecedent in this process. 

What are the key implications of your article for research, policy, or practice?

Our research offers practical guidance to organizations looking for ways to encourage male employees’ engagement in allyship. For example, organizations and practitioners could introduce interventions to increase male privilege awareness among male supervisors, employees, and clients in everyday interactions. Promoting such a culture could thus drive men to reflect on their favorable position in the gender hierarchy, which would facilitate men’s engagement in diversity efforts.

Where do you see this line of research heading in the future (i.e., what's next)? 

It would also be interesting to examine whether certain experiences or feelings contribute to allies’ future allyship behaviors (e.g., how much experiencing reciprocity and social support from beneficiaries strengthen or weaken future behaviors) and whether such allyship behaviors spill over to other domains or related prosocial behaviors at work (e.g., positive spillovers into the individuals’ personal lives, engagement in ethical voice behaviors at work, positive forms of leadership). 

In addition, future research might extend this work to intersectional frameworks and other populations and cultures to understand the wide range of ways people experience male privilege. We believe intersectional frameworks would greatly extend our work by deepening our understanding of the antecedents of privilege awareness. 

How did you become interested in this line of inquiry?

Although scholars have drawn attention to the variability in men’s privilege awareness, its impact on men’s engagement in gender equity efforts and benefits that they could accrue from such an awareness are not fully understood. Therefore, we expand the scope of theorizing to uncover an overlooked antecedent to male allyship, male privilege awareness, that can explain why some men are motivated to engage in ally behaviors at work while others resist such behaviors. 

In addition, past scholarship has predominantly focused on documenting the negative consequences of male allyship, which may hamper organizational efforts to engage men in allyship. Integrating prior work on allyship (Dang & Joshi, 2022; Radke et al., 2020) and positive organizational scholarship (Bono et al., 2013; Cameron et al., 2003; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), we propose an enrichment-based perspective on allyship that highlights the relational benefits of male allyship. 

Dr. Min Young Yoon

Assistant Professor, Tapestry Business Advisor

Department of Management

Rider University

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