Why Won't We Speak Up When Men Are Around?

   By SheSpeaksTeam  Sep 20, 2012

Ever clam up and have a hard time joining the conversation in a room full of men? A new study reveals that you’re not alone. In fact, when women are outnumbered by men, they tend to speak about 75% less of the time that men do.

ScienceBlog reports about the Brigham Young University and Princeton study that reveals how women often go silent when participating in group discussions with men. Interestingly when groups that included more men than women were told to make decisions about money distribution by unanimous vote rather than majority rule, women spoke more often and helped the group come to more compassionate decisions (showing more generosity to lowest members of the group).

The study’s lead author, Chris Karpowitz, explains how important it is for women to participate in discussions and what is lost when they don’t speak up. Karpowitz says, “When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion. We’re not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation.”

And even though women participated more in unanimous vote discussions with men, groups often depend on majority rule and unfortunately women refrain from voicing their opinion in these situations. Co-autor of the study, Tali Mendelberg explains, “In school boards, governing boards of organizations and firms, and legislative committees, women are often a minority of members and the group uses majority rule to make its decisions. These settings will produce a dramatic inequality in women’s floor time and in many other ways. Women are less likely to be viewed and to view themselves as influential in the group and to feel that their ‘voice is heard.’”

Why do you think women tend to speak up a lot less when they are surrounded by men?

Have you found yourself going quiet when more men are taking part in a discussion?



Make a Comment

NursTAT by NursTAT | Buckhannon, WV
Oct 31, 2012

I've never seen or had this problem in my personal or professional life. Maybe due to the fact that I was always in the Medical Field. There was no difference noticed between men or women...Each person was always accepted & respected for their own knowledge or discussions whether in a group or as an individual. I have also lived in multiple States & in different Regions too. I personally believe your own self worth/esteem plays a major role in these situations also.

diamonddiaries by diamonddiaries | Greer, SC
Sep 26, 2012

I did not realize this until I moved to the south. My mother never told me when to speak. It was quite a culture shock. It wasn't apparent in Alabama but in South Carolina, it's a sobering silence. There is something seriously wrong when women feel that their opinions don't matter compared to men's.

mom1578 by mom1578 | canton, OH
Sep 22, 2012

My mommy never said a word like that to me. In fact....I'm a pretty reserved person. Unless otherwise necessary. But...I do feel that this is a man's world and I'm no more than a puppet in the play. So...why not spice it up a bit and speak up. The clue is picking your topic. Don't try to jump into baseball or politics if these are not the key areas of interest in your own life. Stay on touch with things you kknow about or are really trying to learn more about.

cw032759 by cw032759 | topeka, IL
Sep 22, 2012

Women do not speak out because their mommies told them not to, it is still the old news of women have been told for ages, gals are to be silent and let the men lead. Which is hogwash. Women have as much right to speak as they do and should. It is difficult to get past years and years of training from your parents, your peers, and co workers. Some one took the message in the bible that women should be silent in church and blew it way out from the true meaning.

fab4life by fab4life | O FALLON, IL
Sep 21, 2012

I don't let the fact that men are around to keep me quiet. I do realize women are quiet when there are men around, and I have learned to just throw it out there. Men often fight back, but I don't back down til they see that I have my own opinion as well as they have their own. I'm a strong woman and I believe in equality. I'll take a stand to help get us women there too. I think most women want to impress a man by being quiet..but they don't know you so that can't impress them.