In a recent LinkedIn post about The Barbie Movie, former Women in Semiconductors (WiS) committee co-chair Garima Gautam wrote that “every year there are multiple industry conferences that have topics like gender bias, women in the workplace and women in the semiconductor industry. We have struggled to get the other half of our workforce (male colleagues) to attend,” she said. (Spoiler alert: Barbie World is turned upside down because Ken feels excluded.)

Ryan Olson commented on Gautam’s social media post, suggesting that men often don’t feel welcome to attend women-focused events, especially if the marketing is not inclusive. While he personally felt welcomed at women-focused events, that’s not always the experience for everyone.  Yet encouraging men to attend such events and letting them know they are welcome to participate is crucial to addressing the challenges women face in the industry. Male colleagues need to be part of the conversation so they can be part of the solution. Harvard Business Review reports that men who are given dignified and important roles to play can be active participants in changing organizational culture. Bottom line: The key to driving change is getting men involved in closing the gender gap and developing fairer workplaces.

It is worth noting that the vast majority of industry events skew heavily toward featuring male speakers and panelists, which means the marketing women receive is often filled with images of men. Women have had to choose to feel welcome enough to attend these events, even though they know that once they are there, they will be in the significant minority – and even more so for women of color. It’s time for men to choose to feel welcome at events that feature women.

Why Include Men?

The committee that organizes the Women in Semiconductors (WiS) program has debated for years whether men should expressly be invited.  There are excellent reasons for women-only events, where female-identifying and non-binary people can speak freely and safely about sensitive subjects like workplace harassment or accommodating nursing mothers. However, in a male-dominated industry everyone needs allies and leaders (who are also predominantly men) to create change – and those allies need to be included in the crucial conversations that occur at these events. So, the answer continues to be ‘yes’!

Excluding men from discussions about gender inclusion implies that gender diversity is a woman’s issue. And this feeds into the notion that it’s women that need fixing and not the workplace. Research from BCG  (Boston Consulting Group) showed that when men are involved in gender inclusion programs, 96% of participating companies saw progress compared with 30% of organizations where men were not engaged. Creating true gender parity requires participation by all genders.

 Women in Semiconductors

Women in semiconductors
There was a great turnout of men at the 2023 Women in Semiconductors event.

The WiS program in May 2023, which is organized by the SEMI Foundation, focused on bridging the gender gap through allyship, a theme that was intentionally selected to appeal to a broader audience. The committee recognized that including men was not only needed but critical to the discussion. Many committee members were very intentional about inviting (and in some cases insisting) that their male colleagues attend. Collectively, we are committed to creating environments that are supportive of people who are typically underrepresented in the workplace and beyond.

One male WiS attendee said he found the presentations both educational as well as eye-opening. While he was confident about recognizing personal bias, he acknowledged that this was not the case when it came to institutional bias. He said he felt that the panel discussion on allyship as well as the workshop on ‘Strategies for Navigating Gender Bias’ equipped him to be a better leader who could influence his company, the semiconductor industry, and other organizations in which he engages, personally and professionally.

WiS West

After many years in conjunction with ASMC in New York, the SEMI Foundation will hold a stand-alone WiS program on the West Coast.  The event will be hosted by EMD Electronics, a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in San Jose, CA on November 7, 2023. Registration is free for SEMI members and students. During the program, speakers and presentations will focus on how we can build cultures of support and belonging where women and all genders can grow and succeed in the semiconductor industry.  As always, all allies are welcome.

An Inclusive Workforce

At a time when talent recruitment in the semiconductor industry is hitting a critical inflection point, we should all strive to be more inclusive so that everyone can grow and reach their full potential, to help our industry thrive. All industry events, not only those with women-focused themes, should work toward greater inclusion and gender equity. Regardless of gender or status within your company, everyone has a role in creating greater inclusivity with a goal of abolishing inequities in the semiconductor industry. An inclusive workforce starts with an inclusive workplace. “We want our male colleagues to engage, and we need their presence and support because we need their allyship,” said Brittney Graff, PhD, Semiconductor Global Product Marketing Manager at Brooks Instrument. “The support and empathy of our peers, including men, is the fastest way to enact lasting change for women in the workplace.” She and Mayrita Arrandale, Sales Account Manager at Applied Materials are the incoming co-chairs of the WiS committee.

For all the men reading this article, please come!  Be prepared to participate, listen, and maybe even get comfortable being uncomfortable.  To quote former Senator Paul Wellstone, “We all win when we all win.”

Margaret Kindling is Senior Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the SEMI Foundation. She promotes inclusion and diversity through her work, including the management of Women in Semiconductors, SEMICON West Workforce Pavilion programming, and the Manufacturing Ownership Diversity (MOD) Working Group.

Margaret Kindling

Margaret Kindling is Senior Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the SEMI Foundation.…

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