Women in Medicine (WIM) has teamed up with two researchers to offer a male allyship program designed for men in the healthcare industry.
WIM, a nonprofit committed to eliminating the gender pay gap in U.S. healthcare, is working with Brad Johnson, Ph.D., professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and David Smith, Ph.D., professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, leaders in research on male allyship in the workplace.
Participants in the Inclusive Leadership Development Lab will learn to become better leaders and inclusive of marginalized workers at their organizations and can receive up to 14 continuing medical education credits. The program will include seven two-hour virtual sessions every other week, beginning March 11. It costs $5,000. Individuals interested should register.
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Research has found that when men are intentionally engaged in gender inclusivity, 96% of women at their organizations perceive progress in gender equality, compared to 30% at organizations without strong male engagement. Some of the skills participants will learn at the lab include spacious listening, building trust, addressing bias and sexism and transparent mentorship. There will be exercises for participants to take home and practice.
While steps have been taken to eradicate the gender gap, men are rarely included in the conversation, despite being in leadership roles all over healthcare. “The system was built without women in mind,” explained Shikha Jain, M.D., founder and chair of the WIM Summit. A few years ago at a summit, WIM offered sessions around male allyship and got good feedback. But participants were interested in something deeper and longer that could equip them with actionable skills.
“Unless you get buy-in from the top to realize how important this issue is,” Jain continued, “we’re not actually going to see gender parity in healthcare. You can’t fix what you can’t see.”
“Men have often looked at this and said you know this is a women’s issue,” echoed Smith. “And we’d love to reframe that as a leadership issue.”
These challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic amid the ongoing “Great Resignation” and as millions of women struggle under caregiving duties at home in addition to work. These issues will compound to affect women’s health care for years to come, Jain cautioned. Johnson and Smith believe a lot of solving gender equity issues begins in the home, so related exercises have been incorporated into the lab.
“You don’t just get to show up and throw on your allyship cape,” Johnson said. “You actually have to lean in at home.”
A pilot version of the program took place last year virtually, and feedback was positive, Johnson and Smith said. It attracted directors of various medical programs and professors at academic institutions, including Yale and Stanford University. WIM hopes the program will recur each year, possibly expanding to accommodate more cohorts.