Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business MBA student Joshua Burr is on a mission to support women in business. His goal is precise. He wants to create a way for people, in particular men, to understand and recognize issues facing women in the workplace by creating a roadmap for education and dialogue through role-playing and discussions.
He became a feminist over ten years ago as an undergraduate student and has been studying literature on women and gender equality since then. When he saw an opportunity to apply for an Institute Diversity and Inclusion Fellows position, he jumped on it knowing immediately what he wanted to do.
“There continues to be a growing number of articles and discussions about the importance of men 'leaning in' to help women achieve equality in the workplace. What is not in abundance is content and experiences for men to continue their exploration of how to be an ally using positive experiences,” he said.
He contacted multiple organizations seeking additional resources. “I wrote emails telling them how great their content was and asking what my next steps could be,” he said. But organizations kept coming up empty-handed. Several even told him it was a great idea to create discussion questions and role-playing activities, but they didn’t have any. That’s when Burr identified the gaping hole in scholarly and popular literature about women in the workplace.
During his stint as a Fellow, he will be creating discussion and role-playing activities in three categories: understanding traditional gender power-dynamics (C -suite ratio, pay gap, traditional gender bias), empowering environment (workplace championing, micro-elevating, understanding team environments), and embracing and elevating traditional feminine traits in men (leadership effectiveness, how to understand feminine traits as positive through data).
His mission to create additional resources was influenced by his professional and private experiences. “I joined a Women in Business club in the last company I worked for but the buy-in wasn't good. We had 450 people on a team and five were women. It just wasn’t a discussion we had,” he relayed.
Coming to Scheller, he saw that the proportion of women to men ratio was about even. Scheller women make up about 40 percent of the Full-time MBA class. He discovered the Scheller Women in Business group and joined, eventually becoming the lead ally in the club.
His purpose in developing discussion materials is to create more male allies. But he doesn’t want to take credit for being the single male leading the charge of men helping to improve the environment for women in business. “I'm the one that applied to the program, but there's a lot of guys that want to do this, and I want to make sure both men and women are a part of the research. Having other guys that not only support but want to engage in the process is a very good place to start. At the end of the year, I imagine my input will be 20 percent and the other 80 percent will come from men and women who want to create this,” he said.