Silence in the Workplace

Why Women Don’t Talk More?

Stereotypically speaking, women talk a lot. Statistically speaking, men talk more — at least within professional settings. Men tend to speak more frequently, loudly and dominantly than their female colleagues, which has effectively silenced many women in the workplace.

The hazards of speaking while female Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton business professor Adam Grant in a recent New York Times op ed Speaking While Female highlight the reasons women tend to stay quiet at work. They walk a “tight rope” when they do speak at work because they are “either barely heard or judged as too aggressive.” However, Sandberg and Grant also note that, “When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.”

The tendency for men to take credit for an idea put forth by a woman has been termed “bropropriating” and the unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man has been termed “manterruptions” by columnist Jessica Bennett in 10 ways women can avoid ‘manterruptions’ in meetings. Although Bennett’s terminology may sound colloquial, the concepts she describes are well-recognised among social scientists.

In their article, Sandberg and Grant cite research from Yale and the University of Texas in support of their view that women often decide to stay quiet for fear of backlash.

READ MORE: Her Vision March 10, 2015

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