Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Erin C McHenry-Sorber

Committee Co-Chair

S Melissa Latimer

Committee Member

Scott A Myers

Committee Member

Nate M Sorber

Committee Member

Samuel F Stack


This grounded theory study explores the sparsely examined phenomenon of men faculty engagement in gender equity work through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) ADVANCE project and one of its program innovations, Men Faculty Advocates and Allies (A & A). The A & A initiative recruits two categories of men faculty---advocates and allies---to engage in a program of work designed to heighten awareness about gender inequity and redress it through strategic efforts at the individual, departmental, and institutional level. Advocates are usually senior faculty or program administrators from within and outside of STEM fields. They assume the greater part of the program work which includes self-initiated education and awareness as well as facilitating educational workshops and dialogues for various contingents of faculty men across their campuses. Men targeted to serve as allies are typically junior faculty who are encouraged to participate in ongoing educational awareness activities and to attend or support A & A program initiatives but are not expected to take on additional work as they focus on attaining tenure. Of interest in this study were the drivers of men faculty's initial and continuous engagement in this work, the work itself---that is, the activities described as gender equity work, men faculty perceptions of their personal ally identity development, and the implications of academic and institutional context on men faculty's experiences of engagement in this work. A rigorous analysis of data generated during 35 interviews with 29 men and 6 women faculty at six ADVANCE program sites with formal A & A programs revealed four initial drivers of men faculty engagement in gender equity work. These include: prior interest or involvement in equity work, recognition of and desire to solve the problem, belief in ability to help solve the problem, and sense of duty. Four continuous drivers of engagement were also revealed. These include: belief in the importance of the work undertaken by ADVANCE/A&A, a continued sense of duty, satisfaction with the engagement experience, and positive feedback from significant others. Additionally, data revealed that men talk about their ally identity in two primary ways: as an "ever-evolving" process, and as ally-indicative actions. Participants perceived gender equity work as encompassing an array of activities including micro-actions like challenging another colleague's biased comment, and macro-actions like revamping search committee policies and practices to ensure more diverse pools of candidates. Institutional dynamics including: disposition toward sharing data, shifting priorities from teaching to research, perceived levels of support for faculty engagement in gender equity work, and the quality of the pre-existing ADVANCE initiative all emerged as variables which may influence the continuous engagement of men faculty in this work. A theory of academic men's continuous engagement in gender equity work is proposed. To accomplish the goal of diversity, equity, and inclusion, academic and administrative leaders must consider a portfolio of empirically-tested social justice-oriented change strategies that promote desired outcomes and mitigate well-intended program failure. Given that a key indicator of program demise is member disengagement. The extent to which members remain continuously engaged is likely to positively impact program sustainability. In the case of ADVANCE/A & A, there appears to be a strong chance of program survival.