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Law School partners with Thomson Reuters for research on Allyship

April 27, 2020

Employees of Microsoft Singapore Pledging Allyship (March 2020)
Employees of Microsoft Singapore Pledging Allyship (March 2020)
Law students partner with Thomson Reuters to lead seminal research on relationship between women and male leaders in business and law

Participant Demographics This project currently has 34 participants. The 12 participants whose in... Participant Demographics
This project currently has 34 participants. The 12 participants whose interviews have been completed and all demographical information has been collected will be discussed in this post. The data below is of the 12 completed participants.
Led by Associate Dean of International Affairs Rangita de Silva de Alwis, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School has partnered with Thomson Reuters to conduct a first of its kind study examining the relationship between emerging male leaders and their relationships with the women with whom they work across legal and business sectors. 

The study, “Male Allyship and the Future of Work,” grew out of the “Women, Law & Leadership” course at the Law School and analyzes how these emerging leaders build allyship in ways that could alter the concept of leadership in the future.

Under the guidance of Associate Dean de Silva de Alwis, the student research team was led by Zahra Keshwani L’21 and included: Michael Machado L’20, Chukwufumnanya Ekhator L’20, May Alajlan LLM’20, Margaret Gallagher LLM’20, and Lindsay Holcomb L’21. In the fall, Thomson Reuters will host a major event to discuss the Penn Law research and to present Machado an allyship award specially created by Thomson Reuters. 

The study examines how emerging male leaders in law and business, specifically students at an elite law school, construct what it means to be an ally to women, especially women of color. In the first phase of this study, the authors base their analysis on 34 in-depth interviews with Penn Law students who identify as allies to women, including women of color. In over 35 questions, the survey instrument probed deeply into systemic structural causes that cause gender inequalities. The respondents provided a nuanced view of what it meant to be an ally, both as an individual and as a future leader with the power to dismantle structural inequities. Some responded with stories of their own anxieties and the stigmatization they experienced in their youth when they found themselves in the role of allies.

In this randomized study, the authors analyze how these emerging leaders construct allyship in ways that alter the concept of leadership in the future of work. They also look at how allyship can prevent the reproduction of the patterns of social inequality. This data disrupts the pattern of assigning responsibility for inequalities to women’s perceived drawbacks. For the most part, the participants suggest a combination of structural and individualized remedies for combating unequal workplaces. The authors find that their vision of a workplace premised on these twin pillars of transformative strategies allow these participants to claim identities as allies. What these future lawyers conceive of and perform in terms of what it means to be an ally may provide insights into mechanisms whereby the future of work can be more equal, more diverse, and more effective. These interviews also provide potential answers for creating more inclusive environments in academic settings as well.

Distinguished Advisers/leaders to the research include: Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis and head of the multi-sector consortium brought together by the Gates Foundation to combat COVID-19; Steve Crown, Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft and executive member of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars; David Hornik, Principal, August Capital (leading VC for tech); and Mitch Zuklie, CEO of Orrick.