As part of the 5-question interview meme, arcanology
asks: 1. What should an individual male academic do in order to make the academic career less male-biased?
It's such a good question and provoked such an involved response that I've decided to re-post my answer on its own here.
So let's say you're Prof. Joe Average, white and male. First of all, you should be aware that if you really want to improve the environment for women, you have to do more than mean well, you have to actively work to make changes, and that those changes need to begin with your own interactions with respect to women.
Realize that just because you don't see a problem doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist. You have been sheltered from the problems facing women (or minorities for that matter, a whole 'nother topic!) all your life. Just because someone has had a different experience from you doesn't invalidate her experiences. Don't take it personally if you hear a woman gripe about her experiences with chauvinist men - she isn't necessarily speaking about you specifically.
Understand that you, yes you, have unconscious biases towards women. All these studies I discuss in my livejournal about attitudes toward women as they apply to the business world? Read them. Acknowledge that you are part of the problem. Yes, you, no matter how well-intentioned you are -- those unconscious biases are sneaky that way.
Be aware that your perceptions of a woman's ability might be clouded by your unconscious biases. Repeatedly ask yourself, would I treat this person differently if she were a man? When I write recommendations, do I talk about how brilliant and independent my male grad student is, while talking about how organized and hard-working my female grad student is? Do I believe that the newest female assistant professor got her job only because she is female? Those attitudes need to change. This part may be hard work, but no one said that cultural change was easy.
Seek out qualified women for your colloquium series, your conference speakers, your job search candidates. Keep in mind that women are often worse at self-promotion than men, so even though the first people that come to mind might all be male, there are almost certainly women whom you may not have heard of that would fit the bill as well. Along those same lines go out of your way to give opportunities to your advisees, like talking them up to your collegues, suggesting conferences for them to attend, and encouraging them to give talks.
Point out sources of unconscious biases to your collegues. Show them those studies you've read. Get them to also be aware of their own unconscious biases. Identify cultural issues in your department that might unintentionally disfavor women. For example, if your department puts a high value on "face time," that would work against people who might leave early to pick up the kids, but then work from home after the kids have gone to bed. Another example is if salary increases stem mostly from someone waving job offer from a rival department around - you should be rewarding people for their loyalty to your department, rather than their threats to leave.
When you see misogyny in your institution, whether it's lewd pictures sexual harassment, or simply unprofessional attitudes toward women, speak out about it. The women that are subject to the harassment may be unwilling to speak out for fear of retaliation.
And when you've done all that, don't rest on your laurels. This is going to be a long, hard fight. Constant vigilance!
(Answers to other interview questions will be forthcoming. Soon. I promise.)