Article

It Is Not My Place! Psychological Standing and Men’s Voice and Participation in Gender-Parity Initiatives

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Abstract

Attempts to improve gender parity at workplaces are more effective when organizations mobilize their entire workforce, including men, to participate (i.e., speak up with ideas, volunteer, or serve as champions) in gender-parity initiatives. Yet, frequently, men are hesitant to participate in such initiatives. We explicate one reason for such hesitation on the part of men and suggest ways organizations can address this challenge. Using four studies (correlational as well as experimental), we demonstrate that men experience lower psychological standing (i.e., a subjective judgment of legitimacy to perform an action) with respect to gender-parity initiatives that leads them to participate less in such initiatives. We explain how psychological standing provides a complementary explanation to the current narrative in the literature suggesting that men’s poor participation results from sexist or discriminatory attitudes toward gender parity. We also establish that psychological standing influences participation over and above efficacy, instrumentality, and psychological safety and highlight how organizations can increase men’s participation by providing them with psychological standing when soliciting their participation in gender-parity initiatives. We discuss the implications of our findings for the literatures on gender parity, change management, and employee voice and participation.

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... A few studies on allyship focus on how to enhance support for gender equity policies among men, who are nonbeneficiaries and may be otherwise opposed or indifferent to them. Some explanations for nonresponses or hostile responses include lack of psychological ownership (i.e., questioning if it is their place to act; Hideg et al., 2011;Sherf et al., 2017), threats to self-image arising from the implication that men's achievements are due to their privilege rather than merit (Hideg & Ferris, 2014), and the sense that preferential treatment provided to minorities violates procedural fairness principles (Hideg & Ferris, 2017). Men are more likely to demonstrate support for these policies when they are provided a sense of ownership over them (Hideg et al., 2011;Sherf et al., 2017), are guided by a senior male champion (Vries, 2015), or are reminded of their global values (e.g., with a self-affirmation task where they describe their most important value and why it is important to them; Hideg & Ferris, 2014). ...
... Some explanations for nonresponses or hostile responses include lack of psychological ownership (i.e., questioning if it is their place to act; Hideg et al., 2011;Sherf et al., 2017), threats to self-image arising from the implication that men's achievements are due to their privilege rather than merit (Hideg & Ferris, 2014), and the sense that preferential treatment provided to minorities violates procedural fairness principles (Hideg & Ferris, 2017). Men are more likely to demonstrate support for these policies when they are provided a sense of ownership over them (Hideg et al., 2011;Sherf et al., 2017), are guided by a senior male champion (Vries, 2015), or are reminded of their global values (e.g., with a self-affirmation task where they describe their most important value and why it is important to them; Hideg & Ferris, 2014). To address the seeming paradox of using preferential policies to enhance fairness and equity for minorities, Hideg and Ferris (2017) ...
... Gender regimes are "culturally-historically shaped power systems that encompass manifold facets of domination and subordination along the lines of gender and sexuality" that fuel organizational inequality (Ortlieb & Sieben, 2019, p. 117; see also Acker, 1990 Expand the definition and role of change agents Although many problems related to gender inequality stem from interpersonal relations (Kanter, 1977), there is a relative lack of research that focuses on these interpersonal relations in this body of literature Relatedly, including men in gender equity efforts has been associated with positive outcomes (Hideg et al., 2011;Lau, 2020;Sherf et al., 2017 Female colleagues. Mentoring aside, limited research has addressed the role that female colleagues play in bolstering women's career equality. ...
Article
Despite the mounting research on gender inequality in the workplace, progress toward gender parity in organizational practice has stalled. We suggest that one reason for the lack of progress is that empirical research has predominately focused on the antecedents and manifestations of gender inequality in the workplace, paying inadequate attention to the solutions that could potentially improve gender equality and women’s experiences at work. Indeed, we report here that less than 5% of the relevant studies published in preeminent management, psychology, and diversity journals since the turn of the century identify practical interventions for solving gender inequality in organizations. To advance gender equality at work, we argue that a paradigm shift from problems to solutions is critical and urgent. Using ecological systems theory (EST; Bronfenbrenner, 1977) as our guiding framework, we present an integrative review of gender equality interventions spanning across the management, psychology, and feminist literature over the past two decades at the ontogenic system, interpersonal microsystem, and organizational microsystem levels of analysis. We subsequently provide an overview of domains not currently addressed in extant research (meso‐, macro‐, and chronosystems) and identify future research directions to spur progress towards workplace gender equality.
... The In one set of studies, women's advocacy was motivated by their personal experiences navigating contexts where they experienced concerns about confirming negative gender stereotypes about their abilities (Cortland & Kinias, in progress). Men, on the other hand, were driven by feelings of legitimacy, or psychological standing: They were more likely to participate in gender balance initiatives if they felt it was their place to do so (Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017). Although these disparate projects shed some light on what motivates support for gender balance, they fail to offer a clear solution for organizations looking to garner widespread support. ...
... Although a substantial amount of research has demonstrated potential benefits of diversity for both individuals and organizations and how to realize such benefits within teams, less is known about what makes people more committed to gender balance in the workplace. Some recent research has found that men are more likely to support gender parity initiatives if they feel it is legitimate for them to do so (Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017). Other recent work has found evidence for women to be more likely to commit to gender balance, in the form of sponsoring and mentoring other women, when they experienced stereotype threat (i.e., they felt devalued due to negative stereotypes about their gender; Cortland & Kinias, in progress). ...
... Having a secure psychological state leads to a number of workplace benefits, including fostering open-mindedness and openness to divergent perspectives . Further, Sherf et al. (2017) has shown that men's -but not women's -participation in gender initiatives can be blocked by low psychological standing. This paper specifically addresses the gap between men's versus women's experience with psychological standing, but it also suggests the importance of psychological security more broadly in employees engagement with diversity enhancing efforts. ...
... Hence, using voice as an exemplar, we highlight that agentic behavior on part of female leaders can impact female followers in positive ways. By the same token, we highlight how although men can act as allies at work and that their mentoring can be useful for multiple other outcomes (Sherf et al., 2017), in the context of voice, women need to observe other women and not merely men demonstrate agency. ...
... Our findings also speak to the role men can play as allies at work. Scholars have noted that men need to get more involved in helping organizations attain gender parity on various work outcomes (Joshi et al., 2015;Sherf, et al., 2017). Our paper adds to this discussion by highlighting that gender-congruent role models have more beneficial effects on voice self-efficacy of women on the frontlines. ...
Article
Voice-or the expression of ideas, concerns, or opinions on work issues by employees-can help organizations thrive. However, we highlight that men and women differ in their voice self-efficacy, or the personal confidence in formulating and articulating work-related viewpoints. Such differences, we argue, can impede women's voice from emerging at work. Drawing on social cognitive theory (SCT), we propose that women tend to develop greater voice self-efficacy and thereby speak up more when they have the opportunity to observe female rather than male leaders speak up. Hence, we point to the potential absence of women leaders who can role model speaking up at work as a likely inhibiter of women's voice. Using data from a correlational field study involving 368 employees and their leaders from a variety of industries in India and an experimental study in an online panel of 546 US-based workers, we found support for our hypotheses. We discuss the implications of our research for theory and practice. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... Marginalized group researchers are arguably in the best and most appropriate position to conduct research about their group's marginalization given that they likely have relevant lived experiences. Indeed, past research has shown that having greater personal experience with a particular issue gives individuals greater perceived psychological standing to advocate for that issue, both from their own perspective and the perspective of others (Miller & Effron, 2010;Miller, Effron, & Zak, 2009;Morrison, 2011;Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017). This is, in part, because people are expected to act in line with their group's best interests (Ratner & Miller, 2001). ...
... A five-item scale comprising purposebuilt items and items adapted from Effron and Miller (2012) and Sherf et al. (2017) were used to measure the extent to which participants perceived that the researcher had the psychological standing to be conducting their research (e.g., "Do you feel that this researcher has the right to conduct this research?" 1 = not at all, 7 = very much; α = .90). ...
Article
Researchers from marginalized groups often make important social scientific discoveries about prejudice, particularly when they are members of the group under investigation (e.g., women studying sexism, Black Americans studying racism). But is the scientific integrity and validity of their work perceived differently by virtue of their membership in the marginalized group? Across three survey experiments conducted in the domains of weight stigma, racism, and sexism research (total N = 1317), we find that researchers from a marginalized group whose research focuses on prejudice against their ingroup face a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are perceived as having greater psychological standing and expertise in the research area owing to their personal experience and insight into the processes they are researching. This, in turn, facilitates greater trust in, and perceived legitimacy of, their research. On the other hand, their research is simultaneously considered less trustworthy and legitimate because it is perceived as being motivated by a vested interest, in terms of having a personal agenda in the research. These findings demonstrate the competing biases that affect public perceptions of marginalized group researchers and their work in the area of prejudice.
... It may also be that men question their psychological standing regarding gender equity advocacy, that is, the extent to which it is legitimate and right for them personally to participate in gender equity efforts. A series of correlational and experimental studies undertaken by Sherf, Tangirala, and Weber (2017) showed that in addition to other pragmatic or social considerations, men's beliefs about their psychological standing influences participation in gender equity initiatives. ...
... Factors that promote men's engagement in gender equity work include increased awareness about unconscious bias and gender inequities, the development of a personal motivation for "championing" gender equity efforts, the presence of men role models, opportunities for men-MEN FACULTY ADDRESSING GENDER INEQUITIES 8 only dialogues, and engagement in solution-building (Prime & Moss-Racusin, 2009;Prime, Otterman, & Salib, 2014). Additionally, men are more likely to engage in gender equity work when that is recognized as a legitimate role for them (Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017). ...
... Further, given the possibility for an employee's own relationship with the manager to confound results for average peer-LMX, we examined whether controlling for each employee's own ratings on the LMX scale (self-LMX) impacted the pattern of results. Moreover, we explored whether our results were robust to the addition of alternative voice predictors (e.g., Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017; 1 5 "strongly disagree" to 7 5 "strongly agree"). These were (a) psychological safety, measured with 4 items from Edmondson (1999), which captured the extent to which employees felt they could engage in behaviors such as voice without interpersonal risk (sample item: "It is safe to take a risk on this team"); (b) efficacy, captured using the 3-item competence subscale of Spreitzer (1995), which, in line with the measurement of our independent variable that focused on work activities in general, represented employees' confidence in their work abilities (sample item: "I am self-assured about my capabilities to perform my work activities"); and (c) instrumentality, measured using the 3-item impact subscale of Spreitzer (1995), which represented employees' belief that their actions impact work outcomes (sample item: "I have significant influence over what happens in my department"). ...
... Further, given the possibility for an employee's own relationship with the manager to confound results for average peer-LMX, we examined whether controlling for each employee's own ratings on the LMX scale (self-LMX) impacted the pattern of results. Moreover, we explored whether our results were robust to the addition of alternative voice predictors (e.g., Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017; 1 5 "strongly disagree" to 7 5 "strongly agree"). These were (a) psychological safety, measured with 4 items from Edmondson (1999), which captured the extent to which employees felt they could engage in behaviors such as voice without interpersonal risk (sample item: "It is safe to take a risk on this team"); (b) efficacy, captured using the 3-item competence subscale of Spreitzer (1995), which, in line with the measurement of our independent variable that focused on work activities in general, represented employees' confidence in their work abilities (sample item: "I am self-assured about my capabilities to perform my work activities"); and (c) instrumentality, measured using the 3-item impact subscale of Spreitzer (1995), which represented employees' belief that their actions impact work outcomes (sample item: "I have significant influence over what happens in my department"). ...
Article
Employees often remain silent rather than speak up to managers with work-related ideas, concerns, and opinions. As a result, managers can remain in the dark about issues that are otherwise well known to, or universally understood by, frontline employees. We propose a previously unexplored explanation for this phenomenon: Voice is prone to bystander effects, such that the more certain information is shared among employees, the less any particular employee feels individually responsible for bringing up that information with managers. We theorize that such bystander effects are especially likely to occur when peers of focal employees, on average, enjoy high quality relationships with managers and thereby have adequate relational access to voice up the hierarchy. Using a correlational study involving managers and employees working in teams in a Fortune 500 company, and two experimental studies (a laboratory study involving undergraduate students working in a hierarchical setting, and a scenario study with a sample of U.S.-based workers), we provide evidence for our conceptual model. We discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of our findings.
... The reader may also question the mixed genders of the authors of this editorial. Many proponents of increased recognition of women in science have highlighted that a major part of the problem has been that not enough male allies stand up publicly for their female colleagues, in part because some are embarrassed, fearful, or even feel, and are sometimes told by their colleagues, that 'it is not their place' [3][4][5]. Such acts of omission have in turn allowed cultures of disparity and inequality to continue, in large part, because men benefit from it. ...
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Across the breadth of fire science disciplines, women are leaders in fire research and development. We want to acknowledge some of these leaders to promote diversity across our disciplines. In Fire, we are also happy to announce a new Special Collection, through which we will continue to acknowledge current and future Diversity Leaders in Fire Science by inviting contributions from the leaders in this editorial, among others.
... For example, in group settings, the bystander effect may prevent men from speaking up if they expect that someone else will instead, and they may be even less likely to speak up if they believe that their peers endorse sexism (Darley & Latane, 1968;Kilmartin, Semelsberger, Dye, Boggs, & Kolar, 2015). Another common reason men may not serve as allies is that they feel it is not their place to do so (Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017), and they may worry about saying or doing "the wrong thing" (Hazler, 1996;Ji, Du Bois, & Finnessy, 2009). ...
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As Gardner, Ryan, and Snoeyink (2018) state, their findings on gender representation in industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology indicate that “the profession as a whole falls into the category of ‘not walking the talk’” (p. 385). We agree that it is imperative to understand the current state of gender inequity in our field while also actively working toward achieving gender equity. This article attempts to inspire each and every individual in I-O psychology to feel a personal responsibility to engage in behaviors that reduce gender disparities in our field. Although women are normatively the focus in fights for gender equity, men should be equal partners in these efforts. In this commentary, we focus on the contributions that male allies in I-O psychology can make in fostering gender equity. To be clear, we are not claiming that women need to be rescued by men; however, we do believe that I-O psychology can achieve the greatest progress toward gender equity when both women and men engage in supportive efforts. As Emma Watson said in her 2014 United Nations speech, “How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?” (UN Women, 2014). In times when political leaders and national laws may fail women, it is crucial that local communities—like the I-O community—adopt a clear stance in promoting gender equity. In this commentary, we define allyship, discuss the importance of male allies, suggest ways in which male allies can help promote gender equity in I-O psychology, and consider potential barriers to male allyship and ways to overcome them. The strategies that we propose are by no means exhaustive; rather, they are suggestions for how to initiate a larger movement.
... Participation is associated with perceptions of control and the product is viewed as an extension of oneself (Pierce et al. 2003). Further, it is helpful when hesitant men are encouraged to participate and reassured that they do indeed have a place in the gender-parity conversation (Sherf et al. 2017). ...
... Second, in contrast to extant work on the benefits of forgiveness for victims (e.g., Karremans, Van Lange, Ouwerkerk, & Kluwer, 2003), we highlight potential costs of forgiveness: nonforgiving victims' perceptions that for-givers are less benevolent toward them and possess little integrity. Finally, we extend the literature on psychological standing (e.g., Miller, Effron, & Zak, 2009;Miller & Effron, 2010), which has examined standing in the context of unfair policies or procedures (Effron & Miller, 2012;Ratner & Miller, 2001;Sherf, Tangirala, & Weber, 2017), advice-giving (Effron & Miller, 2015), and prejudice (Effron & Knowles, 2015). In this work, we examine standing in the unexplored context of victims' responses to transgressions. ...
Article
A single transgressor sometimes harms more than just 1 victim. We examine a previously undocumented social cost of forgiving following these multiple-victim transgressions. We find that nonforgiving victims believe that other victims who forgive the common transgressor make their decisions to withhold forgiveness appear ungenerous. Faced with this threat, nonforgiving victims report that other forgiving (vs. nonforgiving) victims have overclaimed their standing to forgive the common transgressor and consequently perceive these forgiving victims as demonstrating a lack of benevolence toward them. Nonforgiving victims also perceive forgiving victims to have relatively little integrity. We test these social costs of forgiving in the field and in the lab across 7 studies plus a meta-analysis of 5 of those studies. We also identify 1 route by which forgiving victims can attenuate the social costs they face: they can affirm other victims' decisions to withhold forgiveness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
... When people lack psychological standing, granting them standing by making the issue relevant to them can promote their involvement (Ratner & Miller, 2001). For example, Sherf, Tangirala, and Weber (2017) found that men's participation in gender equality initiatives increased when organizations affirmed men's role in gender issues and the appropriateness of their involvement in promoting women's rights in the workplace. Thus, the involvement of allies in a movement may be effective in mobilizing more support and participation among other advantaged individuals in broader society because it signals to them that they are accepted and have a part to play in creating social change. ...
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What impact do advantaged group allies have within social movements? Although solidarity between advantaged and disadvantaged group members is often encouraged to achieve long‐term social change, allies run the risk of being ineffective or counterproductive, therefore making it important to shift our focus towards understanding the impact of allies. We propose an integrative theoretical framework describing the positive and negative impact of allies based on their distinct identity‐based needs: advantaged group members’ need for moral acceptance and disadvantaged group members’ need for empowerment and respect. By consolidating extant literature and identifying gaps in prior research, we propose a set of hypotheses concerning (a) tensions that arise within intergroup solidarity efforts for social change between advantaged group allies and disadvantaged group members, and (b) the role of allies in influencing broader public opinion to advance the psychology of social change.
... Arguments have been made in the literature that men may not want to promote gender parity because that will inevitably cause them to lose their privileged status (Joshi et al., 2015;Leslie et al., 2013) but it seems that increasingly men increasingly understand the importance of equality (Donnelly et al., 2016). Some authors offer an alternative explanation for men's lack of proactive support for women, suggesting that men's lack of participation could be linked to a perception of their low psychological standing as far as gender inclusivity is concerned-a sense that it is not their place to get involved (Miller et al., 2009;Sherf et al., 2017). Further research exploring this as an issue within computer science departments, and within the industry as a whole could be of value. ...
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The under-representation of w omen in computer science education courses is well documented, and the social and commercial need to address this is widely recognised. Previous literature offers some explanation for this gender imbalance, but there has been limited qualitative data to provide an in-depth understanding of existing quantitative findings. This study explores the lived experiences of female computer science students and how they experience the male dominated learning environment. Female computer science students from eight universities were interviewed ( n = 23) and data were analysed using template analysis. Whilst these women have not been troubled by their sense of fit at university, a combination of stereotypical assumptions of male superiority in this field, and a masculine, agentic learning environment, has left them feeling less technologically capable and less motivated. The findings are discussed in terms of Cheryan et al.’s tripartite model for women’s participation in STEM (2017) and we recommend that computer science departments should consider feminist pedagogy to ensure that all learners can be well supported.
... Fear of retaliation (Cortina & Magley, 2003;Premeaux & Bedeian, 2003), and perceived risk (Cheng et al., 2020) undermine employees' willingness to speak truth to power. Beyond external pressures, dominant group members may question their own legitimacy in voicing support (Sherf et al., 2017). ...
Preprint
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... Fear of retaliation (Cortina & Magley, 2003;Premeaux & Bedeian, 2003) and perceived risk (Cheng et al., 2020) undermine employees' willingness to speak truth to power. Beyond external pressures, dominant group members may question their own legitimacy in voicing support (Sherf et al., 2017). ...
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... Another factor is men's lack of support for gender-parity initiatives. Even if they do support them, men sometimes believe they lack the standing to get involved (Sherf et al., 2017). Finally, people often feel reluctant to confront sexist conduct because they fear retaliation (Swim & Hyers, 1999;Good et al., 2012;Kaiser & Miller, 2001. ...
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