<![CDATA[Many women were immediately angry when we saw Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren interrupted, chastised, and cut off mid-sentence during US Senate hearings in recent weeks while their male colleagues were allowed to speak. As Renée Graham noted in the Boston Globe, “To be female is to be interrupted. By the time most girls reach their first day of school, they already know how it feels to be drowned out by a chattering group of boys.” It was so obvious to most women watching the Senate hearings that manterrupting was happening—why weren’t the men involved aware of their own rude behavior? There is now an abundance of research documenting that men talk more and take up more air time in meetings (mansplaining and manologues), and that men interrupt women (manterrupting) more. Here is a sample of the studies reporting these findings:
- A study from Harvard found that the larger the group, the more likely men are to speak.
- A Princeton and Brigham Young University study found that when women are outnumbered, they speak for between a quarter and a third less time than men.
- Women are interrupted more by both men and women.
- The more powerful men become, the more they speak; the same is not true for women. For good reason, women worry about a backlash that can occur when women speak more. A study from Yale found that both male and female listeners were quick to think that women who speak more are talking too much or too aggressively. Men are rewarded for speaking more, and women are punished.
- A New Zealand study found that in formal contexts, men talk more often and for longer than women. Women use words to explore; men, to explain.
- A Harvard study found that female students speak more when a female instructor is in the classroom.
- Form gender-balanced panels in professional conference settings and encourage moderators to equalize the air time allotted to women and men.
- Institute “no interruptions” rules in meetings.
- Ensure equal participation in meetings. Keep track of who is and is not speaking and call on people who are speaking less.
- Increase the number of women in leadership and on teams.
- Be an ally—draw attention to women’s contributions, and make space for them and for each other.
6 thoughts on “Equal Air Time for Women: Eliminate the Male-Pattern Rudeness of Manterrupting, Mansplaining, and Manologues”
Just finished reading “In Defense of White Men” by Rolando Merullo in today’s Globe and venting to Bill about how wring headed it was…..and then , your articulate and great blog! You go girl! You are exactly on target!
Donna again- I meant wrong headed not wring headed.
On a (4 hour) flight home last week, I sat next to a manspreader. I took a picture, just to calm myself down. I wish I could post it here…it is a visual representation of all that you are saying, Anne. And, after I cooled myself down and offered a friendly remark (and had a gin & tonic) we had a very good exchange and a fun connection. It is hard for me to see men in a 3D way once I observe the non-woke part running unchecked.
Thanks, as always, for your support. I love the additional vocabulary — “manspreader” is instantly recognizable as another part of this dynamic! -Anne
Thank you for this article Anne. There is such a thing as intent vs effect. I suspect that many men would see themselves as having good intentions. You make it very clear that there are specific things that men and women can do to enact those good intentions. Being mindful of effect not just intent opens more options to effectively enact good intentions!