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UBC Theses and Dissertations

What inhibits male allyship? examining the influence of (mis)perceptions of other men's beliefs De Souza, Lucille (Lucy)


Allyship is acting to support a marginalized individual or group. Although it is impactful, allyship is often avoided. Considering what inhibits male allyship towards women in male- dominated fields, I argue that pluralistic ignorance (Prentice & Miller, 1993; Miller & McFarland, 1991; Prentice, 2007) is a key factor. In this paper, I test hypotheses derived from the following model: men rarely enact allyship in male-dominated fields (e.g., STEM), leading to a general underestimation of men’s beliefs that sexism is problematic. I theorize that these misperceptions predict men’s own inaction, even if men do privately perceive gender bias as a problem. This inaction perpetuates a social norm that men do not enact allyship and the misperception that men are unconcerned about bias. Additionally, I suggest that sensitivity to other men’s judgements moderates the relationship between perceptions of other men’s beliefs and allyship intentions. In Study 1, I test if pluralistic ignorance occurs among men (and women) in STEM, examining relationships between beliefs about sexism and anticipated allyship behavior. In Study 2, I manipulate men’s perceptions of other men’s beliefs to assess if changing these perceptions causally influences men’s willingness to enact allyship behaviors. In Study 3, I test if men are less likely to enacting public reactive allyship among other men (compared to other women) and examine if backlash concerns mediate the relationship between perceptions of other men’s beliefs and allyship. In Study 4, I take this paradigm to an in-person context and observe if manipulating perceptions of other men’s beliefs about gender bias and social norms to confront sexism influences men’s (and women’s) actual likelihood of confronting sexist comments in real-time. My findings suggest that (mis)perceptions of men’s average beliefs inhibit individuals’ allyship intentions and behaviors, demonstrating the impact of pluralistic ignorance on addressing sexism.

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