Women Speak Less in Mixed Gender Groups

Make yourself heard It may not seem shocking to me or most of my professional female clients to hear that women on the whole use disproportionately less "air-time" in any given meeting than their male colleagues. However, I was re-reading one of my favourite books "Talking from 9-5" by linguist, Deborah Tannen, about the way men and women speak in the workplace and was reminded just how much research shows that women will consciously limit their contributions if they spoke a lot earlier in the conversation or even at an earlier meeting, so as not to appear dominating. In fact, in mixed gender peer groups, women made 17% fewer comments and took 25% fewer turns speaking – all of which contributes to the glass ceiling for women. But Tannen summed it up "Such a strategy may be wise for everyone, male or female. On the other hand, it may also be wise to decide that being seen as aggressive is a price worth paying for being listened to. Finally we can all hope that if enough women adjust their styles, expectations of how a feminine woman speaks may gradually change as a result." Nicely said :)

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