Payton West

Major: Psychology
School of Science

How Can Instructors Effectively Signal Allyship?

The goal of the current research is to explore how instructors signal they are allies for women and the positive consequences of this allyship (e.g. belonging, classroom engagement). As part of this study, students indicated the extent to which they believed a current instructor was an ally (e.g. “My instructor is an ally for women in my major”;4 items), as well as their sense of belonging (e.g. “In this class, I feel appreciated”;23 items), and level of engagement (e.g. “Taking good notes in class”;9 items) in the class. The quantitative measure of allyship positively correlated with belonging in the class and classroom engagement. To further understand why students did or did not perceive their instructors as allies, I read and coded open-ended responses about why the instructor was or was not an ally, and identified emerging allyship themes. In total, I identified 13 themes, and these included: helping student success, explicitly mentioning supporting women, being perceived as an ally because of shared gender (group identity), and treating all students equally and without discrimination. I explored whether certain themes correlated with the overall quantitative measure of allyship. With the help of other coders, the data was able to be further analyzed. Students who indicated their instructor explicitly mentioned supporting women are more likely to see their instructor as an ally, whereas other themes did not relate to the quantitative allyship assessment. This suggests that clearly helping women may be necessary for signaling allyship. Taken together, the findings from this research will help educate instructors on how to best signal allyship for their students.