men working to end violence against womenThis Spring, I set out to study women’s experiences working with men in the movement to end violence against women.  A multiple case study, the resulting paper, Hiring and engaging men to prevent violence against women: Pitfalls, perils, and promise explains that I found quite interesting results.  My main question: How, can the movement to end violence against women ensure that men employed in it will not replicate norms and behaviors that support gender inequity and, therefore, violence against women?

The bottom line?  I found that focusing on individual characteristics was not enough.  In all three cases that I studied, men who worked in the movement shared impactful experiences consistent with those that Casey and Smith propose draw men into this work.  But, as I state in the paper:

Given the overwhelming similarities in individual characteristics, however, these alone cannot explain the different outcomes women experienced when working with these men.

So what completed the picture?  I found that stronger differences emerged at the intuitional and societal levels.  For example, with more oversight from a female supervisor, case outcomes improved, resulting in fewer conflicts with the women with whom the men worked and more ethical behavior towards them.  Overall, then, after becoming engaged in the movement, positive case outcomes for men were associated with:

  • Strong organizational recruitment and screening practices
  • Close organizational monitoring and management
  • Organizational support for involvement in the movement
  • A social environment that promotes positive social norms

So often, those of us working to end violence against women stop, feel that we have succeeded, when we’ve engaged men as employees in the work.  Yet as my conclusion states:

[the three cases of men working in the movement to end violence against women] serve as reminders, and as examples, of the importance of organizational strategies for strong management of employees, especially when those employees are men working in the movement to end violence against women.  They demonstrate that attending only to individual characteristics, while important for engaging men and directing their behavior, is insufficient.  Especially in the context of societal norms that promote behavior leading to negative outcomes regarding working with women, organizations will only succeed in their work to end violence against women if they focus on not simply the fact they have engaged men, but how they are engaging them.  Indeed, justice and safety for women and girls depends on it.

What do you think of these findings?  Share your comments below.