My friend just told me about the Men's Night Out that the male faculty members in her department hold monthly. At my two previous institutions, the men in my department similarly indulged. There was a "Meat Night" (manly dinner at a steak house) and a poker night.
My friend is tenure track at a research university. There are quite a few untenured women in that department, but none ever objected publicly to being excluded. This is understandable, given the power differentials and the pressure to get along. But criminally, no tenured faculty objected--man or woman.
My friend brought in a co-author--a man--to give a talk and meet other faculty. She could not schedule a department dinner for him because of this Men's Night Out. So one of these guys told her to just let co-author come along to their Men's Night! He thought it was a great idea! My friend declined. And she was embarrassed to have to explain to her co-author where most of the men were that night.
Men's Night has the effect of excluding women from crucial opportunities to bond and network with others the department--including the powerful men who will hold a lot of sway in terms of tenure.
It took a new, untenured man in the department to forcefully point out how problematic Men's Night is. Not coincidentally, his wife is also in the department. Now many of the men finally get it. Geeeeez.
I'm wondering, how common is Men's Night? Is it just my discipline (still male-dominated)? Is it OK to have women faculty events (under the argument that women are clearly disadvantaged in terms of salary and promotion plus work-life balance issues)? Are men whose wives work in the same department more tuned in to ways that women are disadvantaged/discriminated against? (And is this one of the unrecognized benefits of spousal accommodations? If so, deans take note!).