Interview a female colleague

Description

Men interview female colleagues (hopefully getting a diverse group of female interviewees with different identities in terms of race and sexual orientation). The pairs or small groups are provided a sheet with questions and topics to start the conversation/

Goals

  • Help men conceptually understand different experiences of the workplace (and to some degree personal lives)
  • Get men inspired and motivated through empathetic, face-to-face listening

Theory of Change

Many men don’t realize that how differently others' experience workplaces. This lack of awareness can lead to a lack of empathy and inability to understand their colleagues. With greater awareness, men are better able to understand their own behavior, situational context, and systemic forces which leads them to change their behavior positively. 

Logistics

Costs and food

Food (recruitment can be helped by doing this activity over lunch)

Target / likely audience

  • Primary audience is men who already care – female volunteers will be better able to share personal and impactful stories with attentive and considerate listeners. 
  • Men who are more skeptical or antagonistic can end up trying to “debate” women on their experiences, which isn't acceptable in this context

Location / Participation Size

Though it may be tempting to send pairs or small groups off on their own, this isn't ideal since dispersed participation makes group debriefing, pictures, and unanswered question/topic consolidation untenable.

A/V Needs

A projector can be used to display the agenda and other information

Other resources needed

  • Interview sheets - The sheet is meant as a resource, not as a script. It provides easy ways to start a conversation, but people should feel free to deviate
  • Phone with high quality camera

Recruitment:

Special recruitment considerations

Recruiting female volunteers who are willing to be interviewed is important. Share the interview sheet with them during recruitment so they can effectively assess if they want to participate. Previous experience suggests that many women are interested in speaking about their experiences to men who truly listen and care.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Program lead
    • Be trusted and respected by female classmates. 
    • Set the tone for the event: make sure it’s considerate and respectful given that the women who have volunteered to be interviewed this are going out of their way to help out.
    • Do all room logistics
  • Female volunteers – The best female interviewees are empathetic and have spent time thinking, studying, and talking about race, gender, and other aspects of identity.
  • Food logistics. Order food, ensure proper tableware (plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc), ensure food delivery arrives to right location on time.

Agenda / Program

Agenda

  • Intro and welcome, set tone for the event and explain schedule
  • Q&A about the event and how people should use the sheet and have the conversations
  • Have 45-minute conversations in pairs or small groups
  • Ask people who are having conversations for them to write down questions, subjects, and topics that they are interested in and want to learn more about
  • Have guys write down what they learned on a piece of paper and take picture of them holding it

Tips and pitfalls

  • It's vital the Program lead ensures that female volunteers understand what they’re signing up for.
  • Get the basics down and the event will run itself:
    • Interview sheets have great prompts​
    • Get enough great female volunteers who are willing to share their story empathetically
    • Run a good PR campaign
  • One-to-one conversations work really well for some people, but might be too small and a bit awkward for some. Small group interviews – e.g. two men and two women – can also work
  • You can let female volunteers and male participants choose their own sized groups.

Timeline

Limiting factors are  (1) female volunteer recruitment; (2) getting rooms/locations

2 months prior

  • Reserve room

1 month prior

  • Start recruiting female volunteers and marketing to male participants
  • Share interview sheet with female volunteers

1 week prior

  • Email and confirm all volunteers and participants
  • Double check all room logistics
  • Finalize interview sheet itself

1 day prior

  • Print out the interview sheets
  • Order food, make sure all logistics regarding food are done, e.g. plates, cups, etc.
  • Update RSVP list for volunteers and participants
  • Make sure intro speech for setting the tone is ready

Event day prep

  • Print interview sheet
  • Ensure food delivery, setup, and eating-ware are covered
  • Communicate time, location, and interview sheet to participants and volunteers
  • Arrive to room an hour early. Make sure food is ready before people show up. Organize room in a way that makes sense for small groups to have individual conversations.

Immediately after event

  • Get men to write down things they learned and/or actions they'll take in the future on a sheet of paper with a thick marker. Take a photo of them holding it.

1 day after

  • Post any pictures taken of people who wrote something they learned on a piece of paper
  • Thank participants for coming
  • Share the list of questions and topics the group brainstormed as the event was happening

1 week after

  • Email links related to brainstormed questions and topics

Communications

Subject: Listening session!

[day] [date]
[time]
[location]
Please RSVP here: [Link]

Heard a lot about gender equity (or lack thereof) in the workplace? Curious about your female colleague's experiences with this? Come, ask questions, and listen to better understand experiences that happen all the time, but not to you.

This may sound deceivingly simple, but I guarantee that if you ask questions and listen with an open heart and mind, you will be blown away by what you learn.

You can either bring a female friend, or we can pair you up if you arrive solo. We'll provide you both with a ton of prompts, questions, and topics to get the conversation started.

As you go, we'll ask you to write down further questions and topics of interest.

When you're through, we'll ask you to write down something you learned on a piece of paper and take a picture holding it. We'll post the images to community social media.