Male Participation/alx

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Male Participation
Contributors Anne Bartilla, Christian Köppe
Last modification May 16, 2017
Source Bartilla & Köppe (2016)[1]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

In order to get broader support and organizational help, you want more people to participate in activities that are intended for increasing the gender diversity at your institution.


People—men and women—may see the activities as a women-only issue and might not feel connected to them.

People more easily understand the problems and issues which alike people have. It is hard to think of what someone else thinks and feels in general, but it can be even harder if this person has another background, is of another gender, or comes from another culture.

Gender uniformity in computer science education seems to negatively affect mainly the minority: the female students. But it also has negative effects on the male students—they keep the stereotypes and unconsciously reproduce them—and in the long term on society where gender equality forms an important value.

The structure of power—who is determining what is the standard and be seen as normal—is usually dominated by the majority, often in an unconscious and invisible way. This is another reason why it is hard to change the situation.


Therefore: explicitly have males—mainly faculty and staff, but later on students too—participate in the activities too.

The males should offer support for the activities and also should be willing to do so. Forcing people to become involved might be counter-productive, they should become convinced of the need for support through various Awareness Seeds (Awareness Seeds). Even though it’s good to have males involved, e.g. in the Action Group (Action Group), the leading organizational roles should be held by females in order to also have them being Female Role Models (Female Role Models). Having males involved might also open the access to their networks for the female participants.

Having males—as members of the majority in computer science education, both teachers and students—participating in the activities helps with communicating that this is not a women-only issue, but of importance for everyone. This way the chance of breaking the (unconscious and/or undesired) reproduction of stereotypes can be increased.

Applying this pattern will help with convincing other men (hereby creating an Early Majority (Early Majority)[2]), as these men can function as Evangelist (Evangelist)[2]and are also a source of Awareness Seeds (Awareness Seeds). Start with Quick Supporters (Quick Supporters) in order to get enough male participants in your Action Group (Action Group). Such Quick Supporters (Quick Supporters) can be found by observing their attitude towards gender diversity during discussions on the topic. They can be asked directly to participate and become involved in some activities.

Involving more men likely leads to a broader support, especially at the levels of power where men still form the majority such as higher management. These males can also function as strong Awareness Seeds (Awareness Seeds) for their male peers, as some of these peers are likely easier convinced of the importance of the topic by them as by females.

Involving males also can have negative effects, as there is a chance that they become too dominant and hereby reproduce the structure of power that the activities intend to change. It is therefore important to have most leading organizational roles held by females.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) did research on the role male advocates and allies play in increasing gender diversity through creating an open and friendly environment for everyone. They published a brochure that helps males becoming involved in promoting gender diversity in technology workplaces[3]. This approach is applicable too in computer science education institutions.


  1. Bartilla, A., & Köppe, C. (2016). Organizational Patterns for Increasing Gender Diversity in Computer Science Education. In Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP 2016). New York:ACM.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rising, L., & Manns, M. L. (2004). Fearless change: patterns for introducing new ideas. Pearson Education.
  3. Ashcraft, C., DuBow, W., Eger, E., Blithe, S., & Sevier, B. (2013). Male advocates and allies: promoting gender diversity in technology workplaces. National Center for Women in IT, Boulder, CO.