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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Collaborating with Men

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    Photo of Mishal Husain speaking to Murray Edwards College students
    Alumna Mishal Husain speaking to current students

    As a College for women, we want to have a voice about women’s status in society and the workplace. 

    Collaborating with Men

    Collaborating with Men is ground-breaking research conducted by Murray Edwards College with men to establish how men and women can work together to transform workplace culture barriers to women’s progress into leadership positions. Much research shows how women’s careers are ill-affected by assumptions and behaviour in the workplace that arise from the dominance of masculine culture. Yet, very little research has sought the point of view of men. The research asks men who support gender equality:  Do they see the problems women report?  What they can personally do to help change the workplace?  What support do they need from leaders?
     
    We conducted this research because ‘fixing the women’ alone will not be enough to support the careers of ambitious young women. The culture in the workplace needs to change. That needs the collaboration of men.
     
    40 men participated in the research who had early career, middle management and senior leadership roles in SMEs and large organisations, across public and private sectors. The findings were then build on in a collaborative conference in which men and women worked together on the recommendations which can be found in the research report that can be downloaded here.

    From Research to Day-to Day Practice

    We have now presented this research to many large organisations in sectors that include finance, technology, engineering, science, professional services, media, academia and government in the UK and beyond. Many have asked for more detail on how to implement the solutions suggested in the research. We have therefore introduce this guide, which can be downloaded here, as a companion to ‘Collaborating with Men’ to help you turn the research into action.

    Women Today, Women Tomorrow

    In 2014, for our 60th Anniversary, we undertook a survey into the life and work experiences of alumnae, around 1000 responded. We asked women to reflect on their careers and to tell us about the challenges they had faced. When asked about the challenges:

    • 38 per cent had experienced career challenges (have to do better than men for promotion, not listened to, and outright sexism)
    • 22 per cent had experienced challenges in balancing family life and work
    • 14 per cent had experienced inadequate training / information

    Read the full results in the Women Today, Women Tomorrow report.

    That was not just a reflection of history. 31% of alumnae under 30 cited an unsupportive workplace. The results of our survey corresponded with findings of a number of others which have now been published. Through our Gateway Programme, and the way we teach, students develop the confidence to face the challenges they can expect to meet in the workplace. We know though that many women first meet these challenges after several years at work. We have recently begun a mentoring scheme for our 25-35 year old alumnae with an alumna mentor at the later stage in her career. We aim to be a resource for our women throughout their lives. 

    However, while we do want to support women, the issues they describe cannot be solved by women alone. This is not about ‘improving’ women, but about changing the culture. That has to be done in collaboration with men.