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Male Champions & Gender Equality | Dr. Katina Sawyer at Harvard Law School

This month, I was asked to serve on a panel at Harvard Law School, sponsored by the Women’s Law Association, which addressed issues of male championship for female leaders at work. I was asked to speak on this topic based on my ongoing work on male champions at work, with my collaborator, Dr. Anna Marie Valerio (Executive Leadership Strategies, LLC). The initial collaboration between Dr. Valerio and myself was based on interviews with female-nominated male champions for gender inclusivity at work, as well as the women who nominated them. The paper that resulted from that data collection is currently being prepared for submission to the Journal of Applied Psychology. Our ongoing work is funded by both the National Science Foundation and the Society for Human Resource Management and focuses on the creation of a measure of gender inclusivity for leaders at work, as well as a large-scale quantitative study that would explain the links between gender inclusivity and important workplace outcomes, such as job satisfaction, intent to remain with the company, and bottom line performance of organizations. We will also complete a case study, so that we can better understand how gender inclusive leadership produces these outcomes.

I served on the panel at Harvard Law School with three other panelists who had expertise in male allyship for gender equality. First, Gaurav Garg, who is the CEO of Personal Insurance at AIG, shared his perspective on male allyship in the corporate arena. Next, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Ambassador to Austria, shared her experiences working with men and women to close the gender gap in developing countries. Finally, Dr. Alex Trouteaud, Director of Policy and Research at Demand Abolition, shared his views as a male working toward ending human trafficking globally. I shared my ongoing research findings with regard to male champions and made links between my work and the work that the other panelists were doing worldwide and at the societal, instead of the workplace, level. The panel was well-received by the Harvard Law students and faculty. The audience asked really interesting questions about how male champions can help in the wake of public scandals, such as the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly, and also inquired about how to be a good ally, without overshadowing women or other minority groups.

Overall, the experience was really positive and I was thrilled to represent Villanova HRD at Harvard Law! I hope to be invited back again in the future to discuss similar topics.


Check out a throwback #VUHRDConversations video with Dr. Sawyer as she discusses male champions and the men who mentor women!


Katina Sawyer, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. Connect with her on LinkedIn and learn more about her here!

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