Speaker Spotlight: David Smith

Updated: Apr 16


This week we're talking to David Smith, PhD, Co-author of the forthcoming book, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace and Associate Professor of Sociology in the College of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Naval War College.

A former Navy pilot, Dr. Smith led diverse organizations of women and men culminating in command of a squadron in combat and flew more than 3,000 hours over 30 years including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a sociologist trained in military sociology and social psychology, he focuses his research in gender, work, and family issues including gender bias in performance evaluations, dual career families, military families, women in the military, and retention of women.

We asked David a few questions to gain insight on his experience so you can get as excited as we are about him joining us for our first virtual Rise & Diversify event!


Tell us something about you not in your bio...

I grew up in a military family and moved 14 times before I went to college. The hardest question you can ask a “military brat” is where are you from! I was born in Jacksonville, Florida but lived all over the US and internationally in Iceland.


What attracted you to your current industry and role?

As a professor for the past 11 years, I have always enjoyed teaching and working with students. I find the learning and discovery process to be invigorating. The relationship with students is especially rewarding in watching them grow and develop both in the short term and in many cases across their careers.

As a sociologist, I am drawn to the complexity of understanding human behavior and solving social problems.


What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?

Within a network of peers, colleagues, mentors, mentees and friends I enjoy developing relationships into productive teams that explore the art of the possible. Coupled with my curiosity, finding opportunity for growth within situations has been a recipe for success for me.


What is your proudest achievement?

Publishing our first book, Athena Rising. Writing and publishing a book was something I never thought I would do. But through the encouragement and mentoring from my co-author and good friend, Brad Johnson, writing the book was a powerful and thoroughly enjoyable learning process. Now we have our second book, Good Guys, coming out in October 2020.


What do you think needs to happen or have you seen done successfully in the past to create an inclusive workplace/corporate culture?

Engaging men as allies and linking diversity, equity and inclusion to leadership is vital. To create a culture in which men can be allies, we find it’s essential to reframe gender equality as a leadership issue instead of a “women’s issue.” Forward-leaning and successful organizations cultivate a culture of allyship and equip men to succeed in mentoring women and thrive as allies for gender equity broadly. Effective male allies have a healthy dose of gender humility, are willing to admit mistakes, and ask for feedback.


Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

To really move the dial on gender inclusion, we have to start at home. Without men as equal partners at home, there isn’t much hope in making last change in the workplace.


Ready to learn about the power of inclusive mentorship and how you can make this a reality?

Register for the upcoming virtual Rise & Diversify event on Wednesday April 22!

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