Ep #87: MEN - We Need You! The Indispensable Role of Male Allies

June 11, 2024 • 14min


Men, we need you. There, I said it.  

But it is absolutely the truth.

If we want to continue to be a thriving, sustainable, and profitable industry, we need to get more women into this industry and strive for gender equity. The only way we are going to get there is if we have the support of male allies to help drive that change.

The Changing Landscape

Recently, I was at a NAWIC event, where we were discussing and sharing stories. Someone asked me, "Is the industry changing? Are we actually seeing positive outcomes for women in the industry?" The answer isn't straightforward. There are days, weeks, and months where I see positive steps in the right direction—people engaging in meaningful conversations and initiatives gaining traction and creating positive results. But there are also times when it feels like all that hard work is being reversed. It often feels like it’s two steps forward and one step back. That is often the nature of change.

The Role of Male Allies

When we talk about gender equity, we appreciate that organisations and leaders want to be seen as driving change. Most of these people have good intentions, but intentions will only get you so far. Real meaningful change is driven when there is a clear agenda and prioritisation of the issue. This is where we need leadership—CEOs and executive teams to champion gender equity. Women have been advocating for changes that address systemic issues for decades with varying levels of success. But in the last 50 years, not much has shifted fundamentally. Men continue to hold the majority of positions of power, especially in the property and construction industry.

Why Male Allyship is Crucial

Progress will continue to be slow unless we get male leaders on board driving gender equity as a priority. Thus, we need our male leaders, and we need men at all levels of our organisations and industries to support women and the goal of gender equity. Male allyship is crucial because, frankly, you still hold the power. The success of women and a more balanced distribution of power and opportunities will largely depend on your commitment to this issue.

The Challenges Women Face

To be a male ally, it is crucial to understand the barriers women face in the industry. These include:

  1. Gender Stereotypes: Young people perceive construction and property as spaces for men.
  2. The Broken Rung: The barrier where women struggle to step into that first leadership role.
  3. The Leaky Pipeline: The gradual loss of women through different stages of their career, particularly when considering starting families.
  4. The Glass Cliff: Women are more likely to be placed into leadership roles during times of crisis and instability.
  5. The Second Shift: Unpaid domestic labour and responsibilities that often fall on women, on top of their paid employment.

Steps to Being a Male Ally

Here's how you can be an effective male ally: 

  1. Awareness: Recognise the existence of gender inequity and understand the systemic barriers.
  2. Advocacy: Use your voice and position to promote gender equity and push for organisational and industry change.
  3. Empathy: Actively listen to women’s experiences and validate them without judgement or dismissal.
  4. Concrete Action: Take tangible steps like mentoring, sponsorship, and pushing for equitable policies.
  5. Accountability: Hold yourself and others responsible for perpetuating the issues surrounding gender inequality.
  6. Continuous Learning: Stay educated on gender issues, remain open to feedback, and be prepared to adapt and change.

The Long Game

Remember, this is a learning process.

Being a male ally means engaging in issues and having often hard and uncomfortable conversations to understand the real lived experiences of women in the industry. It’s not a tick-box exercise or a short burst of activity.

This is a long game.

Show up day in and day out, hold that standard, drive change, and keep repeating until we achieve our goal. As I said, we need you. We need men in our industry to drive this change because, as women, we will not get there on our own.


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I acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which I conduct my business, the Wangal and Gadigal Peoples of the Eora Nation. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples.