Be a Pal, My Dudes

A guide to being an ally in the workplace

Erika Hall
Published in
6 min readFeb 19, 2018


Animation by Ariel Davis

SSo, we at Mule run a workshop to help women reduce the impact of gender bias in the workplace. A commonly asked question is something like “Why aren’t you running a workshop for men since they are the ones who have to change?” The short answer is that it’s a complex dynamic, and women have the most incentive to change it. Our approach is to help decrease the amount of effort overall since women in male-dominated workplaces are already putting in so much extra because of bias. If you want to change habits, start where there are already strong incentives for change.

The longer answer is that we’re working on it.

In the meantime, I know there are a lot of men out there right now with good intentions who want to help change things, but it’s not always clear which actions are most helpful. And asking the people who are already doing extra work to do the additional work of teaching you how to help them do less work is…annoying. This is true for anyone who has more privilege in any given situation. Do your part to make it easier.

We all know the right thing to do, it’s cultivating a habit of doing the right thing in the moment that is so hard.

So, based on what we’ve heard in our workshops, conversations with colleagues, and straight-up asking Twitter, here are a few very specific helpful actions you can take. Many of these you’ve probably heard before. If we keep repeating them, maybe they’ll stick. We all know the right thing to do, but it’s cultivating a habit of doing the right thing in the moment that is so hard.

(Note: This list is just a starting point, and I’ve focused on peer-level actions, not management. Thanks to everyone weighing in!)

Listen to women

This is fundamental on all levels. Listen to the individual woman who is talking to you. Assume she knows what she is talking about. Listen to the collective voices of women saying there is a problem. Stifle any urge to respond defensively. Don’t try to guess what they’re about to say. Just listen.

And don’t interrupt.

Create space for women to speak



Erika Hall
Writer for

Co-founder of Mule Design. Author of Conversational Design and Just Enough Research, both from A Book Apart.