Men’s Stories of Interrupting SexismApr 27, 2021
According to Catalyst’s report from its Interrupting Sexism at Work series, fewer than 50% of surveyed men reported high likelihoods of responding directly to a sexist event. They are much more likely to respond indirectly—such as by redirecting the conversation or reacting unassertively—while 20% reported a high likelihood of doing nothing at all.
Whether or not men interrupt sexism goes far beyond their personal commitment and confidence. Organizational climate is extremely important. In fact, 41% of the decision by men to remain silent and do nothing to interrupt a sexist event in their workplace is explained by negative organizational climates.
This report features stories and insights from men committed to gender advocacy—in their own words—culled from 27 in-depth interviews. The stories provide first-hand accounts of their experiences and the reflection that followed, with all the nuance, complexity, and in-the-moment decisions that are part of the real-life workplace.
No one wants to be told they’re kind of a sexist, even though their behaviours might mean they are…. Especially when it’s nonintentional. So how do you navigate that in a way to end up in a positive place, as opposed to shutting people down, making them defensive? —Senior leader in consulting
We recognize that individual men experience different levels of power and privilege. Race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other categories of identity privilege some men over others, and these differences impact men’s experiences and understandings of interrupting sexism. What we offer in this report is a compilation of our interviewees’ most telling commentaries. Each account reflects the unique experiences and views of an individual. Yet collectively, these stories offer a mosaic of the kinds of situations, experiences, and deliberations that have shaped the professionals featured here and taught them lessons worth sharing. These visceral stories provide the context managers need to hone their inclusion efforts to resonate with as many employees as possible.
This project has been funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.
How to cite this product: Sattari, N. (2021). Men’s stories of interrupting sexism. Catalyst.