Neil Pepper MBE, Night Construction Manager in Renewals and Enhancements at London Underground and board member for Women in Transport, shares his five tips for becoming a better male ally. Neil is our membership lead at Women in Transport and an incredibly supportive, kind and generous male ally totally committed to advancing women working in transport and encouraging more young people into careers in transport.
1. Challenge, and be prepared to be challenged
If you’re present when negative gender stereotypes are bandied around, challenge those who’re making the comments and call out their behaviour. I accept that this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but who amongst us doesn’t have a female relative or friend in their life who they wouldn’t want the best for? Maintain an open mind, for you will surely find your unconscious bias being challenged too.
2. “Walk the walk”
To quote the stereotypical Hollywood macho male: “Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.” Get yourself along to events, workshops and seminars, and show visible front-and-centre support; you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at how welcome you’ll feel and the massive positive energy that overflows from such events. It’ll keep you emotionally uplifted and buzzing for days.
3. Small acts build a new world
You don’t have to boil the ocean in one go: small consistent acts of support and encouragement are as effective as the great show-piece production. Do what you can, whenever you can.
4. Coach, mentor and encourage
Whatever role you have, there will be females who are interested to learn from you, so make yourself available and create opportunities for sharing your knowledge; there can be no greater – and more valuable – use of your time.
Gender parity requires cultural change. Don’t be put off by what may appear to be an impossible task: even the longest journey starts with a single step. You may never influence entrenched minds, but there’s every opportunity to shape young people’s attitudes. The best possible means of doing this is by becoming a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) ambassador.
Don’t be put off if your skillset isn’t specifically in STEM categories, you’ll have skills and knowledge that can be shared in this way and you’ll be genuinely shaping the future. Personally, being a STEM ambassador has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever achieved!
5. Know your own motivation
I’m regularly asked by male colleagues why I engage so regularly with female issues and groups.
I find having a prepared and honest response is always really beneficial. For me, it’s the thought that half of my 12 grandchildren are females. I want them to live in a world where they’ll genuinely have the best possible opportunities available to them.
A quote I reference all the time and try to live by is from Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Do you have an tips (or experiences) that you’d like to share about being a male ally? Tweet us @transportwm.
Neil Pepper MBE
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