Don’t be that dude. Handy tips for the male (whether academic or not)

Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic.

Because it is the decent thing to do.

1. Use the appropriate salutations when writing to a woman academic: Dr. X.

2. Don’t comment on a woman’s appearance in a professional context.

3. Don’t talk over your female colleagues.

4. Avoid making sexual remarks.

5. Make sure your department seminars, conference symposia, search committees, and panel discussions have a good gender balance.  

6. Don’t make it a habit of letting women in your department become the organisers of social activities.

7. Make sure that women aren’t being asked to do note-taking, coffee-making, or lunch order-taking more than men.

8. Don’t reinforce social stereotypes when it comes to opening doors, carrying field equipment, or other ‘special treatment’.

9. Take an equal share in housework and childcare duties at home.

10. During a talk Q&A session, be a good moderator and call on women to contribute.

11. Learn about benevolent sexism

12. Learn what mansplaining.

13. Learn what the tone argument is. Don’t use it.

14. Learn how to apologize when someone has called you out for inappropriate behaviour. 

15. Don’t leave it to women to do the work of increasing diversity. Be proactive. Actively support your female colleagues when they experience sexism.

16. Adopt teaching tools and practices that promote gender equity.

17. Pay attention to who you invite to informal work-related gatherings and make an effort to include women. 

18. Make sure you’re aware of the gender biases in scientific journal editorial practices.

19. Know when to listen. Don’t assume you understand what it’s like for women. Don’t interject with “but this happens to men, too!” Don’t try to dismiss or belittle women’s concerns. Remember that women are often reacting to  a long history of incidents, big and small.  

20. Finally, if you do all of the above, don’t expect a cookie. Your efforts may go unacknowledged or even unrecognized much of the time. Keep at it anyway, because you’re not out to get special recognition. You’re doing it because it’s the decent thing to do. 

24 thoughts on “Don’t be that dude. Handy tips for the male (whether academic or not)

    • It is a re-blog from TenureSheWrote. I summed up her arguments umm… perhaps I ought to have made that more obvious. In any case, the link under the picture will take you straight to her blog, if you wanted to read the full article.
      And thank you for the ‘like’ 🙂 xx

    • So glad you liked it. Thank you 🙂
      I do think TenureSheWrote did a great job in getting extensive research done for this piece, especially as she appealed both to male and female academics to share their experiences of sexism in the workplace.
      There is far too much perpetuation of it in academia (and elsewhere).
      If you liked this post, there are a few others you can reach through the links on the list about benevolent sexism and sharing the burden of parenting (also very well written). x

  1. But I open doors for both men and women – when I was a lad this was considered manners – now I find out I am a sexist 😦

    • If you do not discriminate re the gender of the person you are opening the door for, and if you go through the door first when they prompt you to do so, without insisting on “ladies first”, then it is not sexist.
      I do it too, I am forever opening doors (whether I am with a male or female friend/colleague).
      I think a lot of it is about intent too. If when you open a door, you are simply being polite to the person you are with then that’s ok, if you are opening it because you are with a woman and you think that is what you are supposed to do for a woman, then it is not. The devil is in the details.
      I get up from my seat for the elderly too, and I’ve never worried about it being ageist. umm… Until now!

      • So it seems that the only way forward just to ensure that I cannot be tarnished as a sexist, racist, ageist or any other ist is to barge passed people, steal their seats and slam the door in their face – or am I just taking this to the absurd? 🙂

        Nice article by the way

      • haha Yes, I suppose you are taking it to the absurd, but there is nothing wrong with that either.
        Thank you for reading the post, and thank you for taking the time to comment.
        Pleased you liked it, and even more so that it got you to question whether any aspect of your behaviour may be (mis)construed as sexist. I suppose in many ways this is the aim. This and, of course, curtailing sexism 🙂 x

  2. I cannot disagree with the content of the piece, though the tone is perhaps rather bitter and vindictive. I think there are two things to say:
    1.Sexism is a two way street. Disrespectful behaviour by either gender towards the other is wrong.
    2.I think it was Plato who said we all have a load to carry and we should try to be kind. Not only does kindness put you on the moral high ground, but constant, relentless kindness is a powerful weapon and will get you anything you want.

    • Dear jackspratt823, After reading your comment I re-read the post’s 20 tips and have to admit that I’m at a loss as to which one of them you found to be bitter or vindictive in tone. The title of the article “Don’t be that dude” is humorous. Perhaps the humour is not to your taste, but alas, that is the nature of things. One cannot please all, however much one may try. I would also like at this point to kindly draw your attention to point 13 on the list. There is an embedded link in the post where you can read a fuller explanation as to why it is counterproductive to highlight the “tone” of address (whether real or perceived) in the context in which we are discussing it. It distracts from the issue at hand, and it is often used to deflect and undermine efforts towards gender equality. Regarding the first point you make, I agree with it wholeheartedly. Nor do I believe that the content of the article at any point implies something contrary to it. If you doubt my concurrence on this point please read the following: Regarding the second point you make, I wonder whether you introduce Plato in the discussion as a point of irony. He was not a democrat, so the issue of equality is best served by excluding rather than including him in any such debate, with all due respect to one of the three greatest Ancient Greek philosophers. Furthermore, Athens, whilst the birthplace of democracy, excluded women from the public sphere. Indeed, they were not even considered citizens (with all the lack of rights and public voice this exclusion implies). So while that great city-state can serve as a germ of inspiration for contemporary democracies, it is by no means an example to be emulated. I hope too, that I am mistaken in presuming that by directing my attention to “kindness” you are implying that I (or the article I have reblogged) have been in some way lacking in that department. If that be the case, I would be grateful if you could point out the specific instances of “unkindness” so that I may have the opportunity to amend these accordingly. Before you do so, however, I hope that you will take the time to re-read the article, but this time around kindly do so after removing any preconception you may have brought to the table about what a feminist may be or think like, and how he or she may be expected to behave towards others. I am in the fortunate position to be able to assure you that in none of my interactions with others have I ever made a habit of being unkind, or indeed , encouraged others to be so. One last remark: the 20 points in this article have not been compiled by one person working alone. It’s been the joint venture of a number of male and female academics who wanted to highlight that sexism in academia is a problem, that it damages relationships between colleagues, and that it contributes to an uncomfortable and potentially conflictual environment. The post is meant to encourage professional behaviour in academia, and this does mean a striving towards the equal treatment of men and women. I can think of no kinder endeavour. With best regards, Vic.

      • Dear Vic,
        Perhaps I did not make myself clear.
        I agree entirely with the content of the piece. However, were I a young man again ( which I am not) I would find the tone – starting with the title – affronting. Are all male academics as rude and unthinking as the piece implies ? I think not. What about the men who are trying desperately to get it right ? How would they feel, reading this ?

        Life must be incredibly difficult for professional women. I do not dispute this in any way. It is also difficult for men and we must all do our best. That is what it all boils down to.

        best wishes


      • Dear jackspratt823, Thank you for your comment. I fully understood that you were in agreement with the content of the piece. I am sorry not to have acknowledged this in my first reply, and am glad to have the opportunity to do so now. Thank you too for taking the time to comment; in my previous reply I simply attempted to address some of the issues you raised. It appears that, whilst agreeing on content, we differ on the interpretation of intent. It has never been my intention (in reblogging TenureSheWrote’s article or otherwise) to portray all male academics as rude and unthinking. In my experience, the majority of male academics are thoughtful, sensitive to gender issues and proactive in attempting to rectify practices that go against gender equality. There are exceptions however, and it is they who are the addressees of this post. I fully agree that it is also important to acknowledge that there are many men who are trying desperately to get it right. But this post is about what ought to be gotten right and how, hence the lacunae you mention. I will of course aim to redress the balance in due course. Also, this article does not attack those who are undertaking to get it right. It doesn’t constitute an attack on anyone. It simply states, in a succinct manner some of the issues encountered in academia re gender inequality, and what needs to be done to rectify this.

        You ask: “How would they feel, reading this?” As I mentioned in my previous reply: male academics contributed to the list too. So, presumably, they would not be offended by what is a summation of efforts to be made towards equality in the workplace. I am sorry that the title irked you. It is a catchy title and it grabs one’s attention, which most titles ought to do. It is also, in my view, humorous. I continue to be hopeful that most young academics, and not so young academics too, would take it in the spirit in which it was intended, that is to say with humour. I’m afraid that we will have to agree to disagree regarding what the piece implies. Perhaps the difficulty with this lies in the fact that I offered a concise version of the article, therefore bypassing the larger context. The full article is available on TenureSheWrote’s blog, and the link to this is under the “stop” image. Again, thank you for commenting and for bringing this to my attention. I really do appreciate it. I have been so far lucky in my personal experience of academia to come across but a handful of those who would benefit from reading and amending their behaviour in accordance to the above. Mutual respect and cooperation has always been and will always be my aim, whether in an academic setting or elsewhere. On another humorous note, perhaps I ought to have added a disclaimer at the start of the article along the lines of “If you are a male academic who actively promotes gender equality, you need not keep reading.” In the end, I am persuaded that we are both right, and that humour and kindness both will always win the day. Warm regards, Vic

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