Stewardship cultivates an enriching atmosphere, the opposite of gatekeeping behaviors. Everyone can practice stewardship and facilitate belonging for those around them. In this post, I describe stewardship and gatekeeping, and provide a set of prompts to equip us with a mindset and choice framework.

What is stewardship?

Stewardship is being entrusted with what’s in your care and creating an environment where people can grow and improve while enhancing their sense of well-being.

Here is what stewardship can look or sound like:
  • Using inclusive leadership practices
  • Empathy and compassion rather than hard and fast rules 
  • Listening with an intent to understand rather than respond
  • Giving people the benefit of the doubt, and asking “what else might be true?” rather than jumping to conclusions.

What is gatekeeping?

Gatekeeping is controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something. It is the use of minimizing language, discrediting suggestions, or exclusionary actions to prevent others from achieving something or even feeling a sense of belonging. Gatekeeping creates a hostile and exclusive environment. 

Here is what gatekeeping can look or sound like:
  • “You have to pay your dues.”
  • “Anyone can do that.” 
  • Elitism or snobbery
  • Requirement for unnecessarily high qualifications or standards
  • Limiting who speaks with decision-makers

Why stewardship?

Stewardship cultivates an enriching atmosphere, the opposite of gatekeeping behaviors, which negatively influence performance, collaboration, and turnover.

Everyone can practice stewardship and facilitate belonging for those around them.

How do you practice stewardship instead of gatekeeping?

To change our behaviors, we must change the parameters in which we operate. One way of doing that is to “nudge” ourselves with prompts that equip us with a mindset and choice framework that prioritizes people and the use of inclusive practices. 

When do you use the stewarding prompts?

  • Daily or weekly reflection and journal prompts to assess how you are showing up and serving those around you
  • Reminders for team meetings where it is important to reflect on and ground everyone in stewardship practices (any meeting where you are making personnel decisions, for example)


Use the following prompts organized by four themes to guide you in reflecting on your individual and collective behaviors:


  • Are we choosing compassion and empathy?
  • Are we building trust and maintaining integrity? 
  • Are we prioritizing others over our egos?



  • Are we communicating high expectations and our belief that our high expectations can be met?
  • Are we encouraging and listening to diverse perspectives in this space? 



  • Are we making space for other ways of knowing and doing? 
  • Are we stepping out of the limelight to elevate the contributions of others?



  • Are we intentionally engineering an environment conducive to growth and well-being? 
  • Are we perpetuating or upholding oppressive behaviors that limit access for traditionally marginalized or minoritized groups?

What prompts would you add?

Watch a ~60-min workshop on this topic

Play Video about Guidelines for shifting from gatekeeping to stewardship in the tenure review process

Are you interested in this workshop for your team? We can do it in-person or virtually for up to a full-day workshop, extending on each topic and increasing engagement through breakout groups. 

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Engineer Inclusion's Stewarding Prompts

Meagan Pollock, PhD

Dr. Meagan Pollock envisions a world where personal and social circumstances are not obstacles to achieving potential, and where kindness, inclusivity, and conservation prevail.

An international speaker, teacher, engineer, and equity leader, her mission is to provide services, tools, and resources that inspire awareness and initiate action.

As an engineer turned educator, Meagan Pollock is focused on engineering equity into education and the workforce.

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