Sample Panel Questions

Toolkit Cover Thumbnail

Below are some sample questions and some tips for selecting questions. Feel free to tailor both these tips and questions to fit your needs and your audience. See the Tips for Selecting and Prepping Speakers/Panelists to help you prep panelists to answer these questions effectively.

Tips for Selecting Questions:

  • For a 60-minute panel with 4 panelists, choose 4-5 questions from the lists below.
  • Panelists should speak for 2-4 minutes in response to questions
  • Not every panelist has to address every question
  • Leave at least 15 minutes for audience questions
  • Consider opening it up to audience questions earlier and if it gets quiet, you can return to some of your prepared questions.

NOTE: In general, questions should direct male advocates to talk about ways they have advocated for diversity and more inclusive environments rather than how they have advocated for individual women. Of course, this is a tricky and sometimes blurry distinction. Sometimes anecdotes or examples that initially seem to be about advocating for individual women also can help illustrate ways to create broader environmental change (e.g., making a comment when someone is interrupted at a meeting can make the environment better in general, not just for the specific person who was interrupted). It is important to make the connection between these individual actions and broader environmental change in order to avoid giving the impression that men are rescuing or saving women.

Moderator Introduction Talking Points:

(about 2 minutes; generally follows a 15-30 minute intro presentation on the research background)

  • The purpose of today’s panel is to dig a little deeper into some of these themes and hear about the panelists’ real life experiences being or working with male advocates.
  • The male panelists will talk primarily about what has shaped their thinking, ways they have gone about advocating, and questions/challenges they face.
  • The female panelists will talk about how male colleagues have advocated for them or for diversity in general, instances where they wished they’d had the support of male advocates, and how they’ve gone about identifying or working with male advocates.
  • We have some questions prepared, but we’ll also open it up to the audience for questions.

Sample Questions for Panelists

Making the Case

(Optional; include if you feel the business case needs to be made for this audience; can omit, especially if time is tight, if the research intro already made this case and/or if the audience is already on board with why this matters)

  • So first, can you tell us a bit about how you make the case for diversity in your organization – What do you think are the most effective ways to make this case, or what strategies do you see as key for developing innovative diverse teams? What successes have you or your organization had thus far?

Questions for Panelists Identifying as Men:

  • Let’s start with your experiences. What are some of the personal experiences — or compelling arguments — that have influenced your thinking around gender and technology and have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change?
  • Can you talk a little bit about some of the specific ways that you have advocated for change and the successes and challenges you’ve faced?
  • Can you talk a little bit about how you have worked with or how you talk to other men about these issues?
Speaker Prep Tip: Remind panelists to remember that their experience may not apply to everyone and to acknowledge this when talking about their experiences! See Tips for Prepping the Speakers/Panelists for more info.

Questions for Panelists Identifying as Women:

  • Let’s start by hearing from the real-life experiences of the women: What are some of the ways you have benefited from or worked with male advocates in advancing your career?
  • You have had a range of experiences in your careers: Some cases where you wished you had the support of male advocates and other experiences where you did have the support of male advocates. Let’s start with a couple of the experiences where you really could have used some support and how male advocates might have helped to improve those situations and make the environment a more inclusive place for everyone?
    • Follow-up to previous question: By way of comparison, can you talk a little bit about the times that you have had support of male advocates and what kind of difference it made?
  • How have you gone about identifying and/or working with male advocates for gender diversity?
Speaker Prep Tip: Encourage panelists to tell brief stories or anecdotes that help convey a specific point and bring it to life! See Tips for Prepping the Speakers/Panelists for more info.

Questions for All:

About systemic change

(Panelists may touch on these topics in addressing the above questions but here are some follow up questions to ensure connections with systemic and environmental change):

  • So a lot of what we’ve been talking about here is about good leadership and talent development that works for both women and men. At the same time research suggests that, given the current environment, women can face different challenges in the workplace — challenges that can make it more difficult to access stretch opportunities, networks, resources etc. In your view, what are some of these systemic challenges and/or what role can male advocates and managers play in addressing these challenges?
  • What are some of the more systemic ways male advocates can make a difference? For example, what kinds of programs or policies might advocates advance, or have you experienced programs or policies that have made a difference for you or would have made a difference if implemented?
Speaker Prep Tip: While it’s okay to talk about ways they’ve advocated for individual women, remind speakers that the broader focus should be on how they’ve advocated for changes in the environment.

About next steps and tips for those who wish to get involved:

  • What advice would you give to those who are trying to identify and work with (other) male advocates?
  • What advice do you have for those who want to be male advocates and aren’t sure how to start? (e.g., what should they do, what is an important first step
  • What has helped you be a more effective advocate, or what advice would you have for others who want to advocate?
  • What do we need to do to inspire more male advocates, to move things forward and accelerate change?
Speaker Prep Tip: It can be very useful to talk about questions or dilemmas that panelists still struggle with! See Tips for Prepping the Speakers/Panelists for more info.

Leave Time for Audience Questions!

Instead of waiting until the end, you may also consider opening it up to the audience early on and weaving their questions in with the prepared questions you will ask.

Phase 1 Toolkit:

Scroll to Top