How Men’s “Learned Hiding” is Harming Our Female Colleagues, Our Organizations and Our Careers

Mark Greene
6 min readFeb 7, 2024
Photo by PodMatch on Unsplash

When it come’s to workplace allyship for women, were is men’s inertia and inaction stemming from?

A woman named Leanne Williamson recently commented on LinkedIn about “men listening but not setting about changing things.” This observation stuck with me. The image of men doing the listening part but not then taking concrete action to support diversity, equity and inclusion work in our workplaces got me thinking about the source of this. Such listening is a convincing signaling of allyship, performative in genuinely supportive ways (listening is supportive) and yet, these men are seemingly risk averse when further action is called for.

Most of us understand how openly bullying, patriarchal men create huge negative impacts in the professional lives of women and non binary folks. Less understood is how there are millions more men who, while supportive of women’s issues, are trapped in the inertia of inaction, caused by these same bullying men.

Men’s inaction on behalf of women and non-binary folks in the workplace is cemented in place early in men’s lives by a bullying culture of masculinity that trains boys via the denigration of the feminine to hide who we authentically are and instead model the narrow rules of Man Box culture.

The rules of Man Box culture include:

— Never show your emotions, except anger

— Be a breadwinner, not a caregiver

— Be a leader, always have the final word

— Be tough, never ask for help

— Have lots of sex

— Be heterosexual, never homosexual

— Have power over girls and women

— Talk about cars or sports, nothing deep

When boys show too much emotion or need for connection they are confronted with questions like “What are you, a sissy? What are you, a girl?” This policing and bullying happens daily, if not hourly for boys either as targets or perpetrators of such Man Box messaging. And it can go further. The threat of violence is always there for any boy or man who fails to…



Mark Greene

Working toward a culture of healthy masculinity. Links to our books, podcasts, Youtube and more: