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15 min

Warm up, catch up, and get going!

Step 1: Icebreaker

Group activity

5 minutes or less

An icebreaker is a powerful tool to help us become present with one another and ourselves.

Use this icebreaker to see how your Circle members feel about the way men at their workplace understand gender bias. Read out the statements below and have members raise their hand if they relate to the experience.
Raise your hand if...

  • You’ve ever felt that a man you work with doesn’t understand gender bias
  • You’ve ever tried to talk to a man you work with about gender bias

Step 2: Member Updates

Group activity

1 min (or less) per member

Once you’re warmed up, go around your Circle and share personal updates. As a general rule, personal updates should be brief and focus on big changes and important decisions in your life. (It’s OK not to have one every month!)

If you have a One Action update, share that with your Circle at the same time. (A One Action is one concrete action you committed to take at your last meeting; the goal of a One Action is to step outside your comfort zone or practice a new skill.)

For example, a member update might go like this: “Since our last meeting, I asked my boss for a big assignment and got it. I’m thrilled but a little nervous [personal update]. For my One Action, I asked that coworker I’ve been struggling with out for lunch. She immediately said yes, and I was surprised by how easily we got along. I can see it helping in the office, and we’re going out for lunch again next week—her invite! [One Action update].”

Education Activities

Group activity

60 min

Learn from experts and one another.

Activity 1: Discuss your reactions to the talk

Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

Discuss the following questions as a group:

  1. What most surprised you about Joanne’s talk?
  2. Did any of the experiences she describes really resonate with you? What were those experiences, and how do they relate to your life?
  3. What’s one key takeaway from her talk that you’d like to share with someone else? With whom would you share it?

Activity 2: What do you want men to know?

Group activity

Approx. 30 minutes

In her talk, Joanne gives examples of the ways in which women experience bias, which most men are not aware of. This activity helps you brainstorm the things you’d most like men to know about women’s unequal experience.

Step 1 Joanne’s research found many ways that women make extra efforts to fit in with male-dominated workplaces. For example, some successful women lower their voices, behave extra assertively, style themselves to look less threatening, or wear a particular type of clothing to fit in.

  • Think about your own experience. Have you ever felt you had to make extra effort as a woman to fit in with a male-dominated work culture?
  • Make a list of these experiences. Then, go around the Circle and share one of them with the group.

Step 2 Joanne also talks about how unconscious bias shapes our awareness of what women can do at work.

Have you or your friends experienced unconscious bias because of your gender? Jot down a short list of these experiences. For example:

  • Have you had your expertise questioned more than men on your team?
  • Have you been overlooked for an opportunity because of your gender?
  • Have men at your company organized a social event without inviting any women?

Step 3

  • Review your two lists and then draw a circle around two or three things that you most want men to know about your experience of the workplace.
  • Share these two or three items with your Circle.

Activity 3: Brainstorm how to reach more men

Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

Many men aren’t aware of the inequality women face. Joanne mentions a survey in which most men said that obstacles to women’s success are largely gone

Since a lot of men don’t see the basic problem, it’s tough to start a discussion with them on specifics. This exercise is designed to generate ideas for how to reach men and enlist male allies.

  1. Have you made efforts to bring men on board? How did it work out?
  2. What has stopped you from reaching out?

Activity 4 (optional): Practice talking to men about bias

Group activity

Approx. 30-60 minutes

If you’re interested in enlisting men to help combat gender bias, we highly recommend our activity 50 Ways to Fight Bias. It’s a set of cards that spark real conversations about specific everyday examples of gender bias and offer research-backed recommendations for what to do.

You can use the cards with your Circle or plan a separate meet-up that includes men.

For more advice on how to talk to men about bias, see Lean In’s tips for men at work, dads, and men who want to support their partners.

One Action

Group activity

5 min

The little push you need to go for it

We recommend you close every meeting by committing to a “One Action”—one concrete thing you’re going to do before your next Circle meeting to step outside your comfort zone or practice a new skill.

This time, you might commit to engaging men in conversations about bias.

Share your One Action with your Circle
One by one, go around your Circle and complete the following statement:

  • Over the next month, I commit to taking one step to help men learn about the barriers women face at work. That step is _________
  • Examples:
  • Invite a man to your women’s meeting.
  • Talk to a man you know about your own experience of unconscious bias or of changing your own behavior to fit into a male work culture.

Move quickly from member to member, and consider cheering one another on as you go.


Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

What’s next and a few final words

Step 1: Finalize logistics of your next meeting

Group activity

Approx. 10 minutes

Before you break, make sure you have the basics covered for your next meeting, including day and time, location, and food and drink responsibilities. Decide what you’re going to do when you get together or who is going to send out ideas. You may also want to talk through what worked—and what didn’t—in today’s meeting so you can brainstorm improvements going forward.

Step 2: Close on an energetic and inspirational note

Group activity

5 minutes or less

Think of one small moment of joy you can plan for this week. Go around your Circle one by one and share what you’ll do.