Your Career

Ways to Enhance Your Leadership by Making Your Voice Heard

To really change the status quo, women need to make their voices heard. Across the country, women are tackling that goal on a large scale (say by running for office), or by voicing their opinions in the workplace and in community organizations. Whatever the venue, speaking out is key, especially if you want to advance. Interestingly, a new study has found it isn’t just what you say that helps you get ahead, but how you say it.
Research has found that speaking up with information intended to help your group has a ton of benefits. It can improve performance, help come up with creative solutions, and address (and even avoid) issues that might hold your group back. And by speaking up, research suggests that not only will you help your group get ahead, it can help you emerge as a leader.
In efforts to better understand the power of using your voice, researchers Elizabeth McClean, Kyle Emich, Sean R. Martin, and Todd Woodruff found themselves wondering which matters more: who speaks up, or how they do it? In a search for those answers, the group recently undertook two separate studies, and their results were eye-opening.
Sean R. Martin writes in Harvard Business Review that they found those who speak up can gain the respect and esteem of their peers, and this increase in status made people more likely to emerge as leaders of their groups. However, these effects happened only for some people and only when they spoke up in certain ways.
“Specifically, speaking up with promotive voice (providing ideas for improving the group) was significantly related to gaining status among one’s peers and emerging as a leader. However, speaking up with prohibitive voice (pointing out problems or issues that may be harming the team and should be stopped) was not,” Martin writes. “We further found that the gender of the person speaking up was an important consideration: The status bump and leader emergence that resulted from speaking up with ideas only happened for men, not for women.”
Their findings echo research that shows that people respond differently when men and women engage in similar behaviors, which suggests that women who speak up and share ideas may not see the same benefits as men. Proving yet again that there is a definite strategy behind effectively making your voice heard.
“This research is not intended to suggest that people — men or women — should speak up only with [promotive] ideas and avoid bringing up problems,” Martin writes. “After all, for teams to function, innovate, and learn, it is critically important to … to spot the things that be might holding a team back from even better outcomes.”
This research highlights the need for us to understand the different ways men and women speak. Men are very direct, use and expect one-word responses, women want the story behind the answer. Relationship building and collaboration lie behind women’s communication, while men communicate to get the job done.
My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt cites the work of Simon Sinek, who points out the benefit of explaining why before making a suggestion. For example, by first stating, “I have an idea for improving our overall productivity as a group,” before making their proposal, both women and men found their audiences responded better to their ideas.

My co-author Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D. is a gender communication expert and urges women to make their voices heard to build their credibility as leaders. If they do it correctly, the results can be beneficial, but it can be difficult to the get credit.  Our ideas are our intellectual capital, and in Leading Women, she relates how she felt when someone “stole” her idea in a meeting. She actually thought this just happened in textbooks, so she was stunned when it happened to her. To address the issue, she recommends that you:

  • Bring attention back to yourself
  • Buddy up with someone in advance and have them bring the attention back to you
  • Seek help from the meeting facilitator.

Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.

Five Factors for Your Success

Laurie Battaglia

With 37 years experience in major corporate finance and leadership development, Laurie Battaglia designed a model with five success factors that align your work with who you are and what makes you happy. She calls it The Aligned at Work® model and she uses it to help senior management build leaders, unify teams and get to business goals. Laurie’s passionate belief is that if we understand ourselves and what we need in each of the five success areas, then we’ll know what will motivate and engage us. As leaders, if we provide an environment that allows each of our team members to do the same and discuss these qualities openly, we can’t  help but have collaborative, driving workplaces where people feel engaged, valued and happy. With her husband, Joseph, Laurie does management consulting to stop the revolving door of employee turnover to create successful, high performing workplaces with the understanding that when you’re aligned at work, you’re aligned for life.
Dr. Nancy commented on the statistic that shows more than 50% of people are not happy with their work. Imagine, she said, if everyone loved what they did and the companies they worked for–what a positive impact that would have on the world. Laurie agreed and told about the Lean-In Circles she had developed a few years ago, based on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. She said that although the male upper management supported the circles, the senior female managers would often send their team members in their place, prioritizing their work over their self-development. This devaluing of your own needs and not assigning time for yourself is a shortfall for women in the long run. Laurie explains that the most successful leaders understand themselves and what they stand for, which is why you must develop yourself before you can inspire others.

Aligned at Work

Laurie began her method by asking probing questions about how people feel about the time they spend at work. Does the time pass quickly, or do you look forward to clocking out? She reasons that we spend so much time at work, how we feel throughout that time flows over into the rest of our lives, so your vocation better be a good one. In fact, that is the premise behind each element of the model. Our work lives and personal lives are so interlinked that stress in one area flows into the other one. A dysfunctional home life disrupts your attention at work and colors how you feel about your relationships there. Money problems directly impact how you feel about your salary. So many people stay at jobs they don’t like because they can’t see any alternative. It takes courage and strategy to get unstuck from unaligned situations. Well-being is so personal, Laurie suggests that you define it for yourself. And while spirit may seem out of place in a workplace model, Laurie says that you must be able to bring your whole Self to work to be able to thrive there. She encourages everyone to find employment where you can be the real you, as much as is humanly possible.

The Value of Take The Lead’s 9 Power Tools

While Laurie admits that she is a theorist, she understands that for herself and for others, the practical, “9 Power Tools” she utilizes as a Certified Take The Lead Women Leadership Ambassador are critical for empowering women. Women need to embrace their own power to be courageous and move forward. While corporate change can often come from coaches and consultants like herself, it also comes from each individual and the little things we do each day. Laurie advises women to be conscious and make choices that create change in your work environment. If you do that on a daily basis you can make a huge impact in your work culture.
Listen to this conversation to hear Laurie’s personal story about how being a teenage unwed mother in the early 70’s motivated her to be a lifetime feminist and advocate for change. Check out her website for more about her model and her wisdom for success. She also invites everyone to connect with her on Linkedin where she posts articles regularly.

One Way to Achieve Gender Diversity in The Workplace

It’s no surprise that Women in the Workplace 2017, a report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org., found that women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for 30 years and counting. There is definitely a need to do more, and most organizations realize this, which accounts for the fact that company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row.
Women in the Workplace researchers write that, “One of the most powerful reasons for the lack of progress is a simple one: we have blind spots when it comes to diversity, and we can’t solve problems that we don’t understand clearly. Many employees think women are well represented in leadership when they see only a few. And because they’ve become comfortable with the status quo, they don’t feel any urgency for change. Further, many men don’t fully grasp the barriers that hold women back at work. As a result, they are less committed to gender diversity, and we can’t get there without them.”
While the workforce may be waking up to the fact that talented women can contribute at least as much as men in the organization, progress is still slow. In fact, Women in Workplace researchers even speculate that progress has stalled.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that despite companies’ growing commitment to gender diversity, “It’s hard to solve a problem we don’t fully see or understand—and when it comes to gender in the workplace, too often we miss the scope and scale of the issue.”
Sandberg concludes that businesses can’t “afford to leave talent on the sidelines,” but that we “won’t unlock the full potential of the workplace until we see how far from equality we really are.”
Rather than focusing on who, and who isn’t, in the C-suite, Women in the Workplace researchers first examined the corporate pipeline, starting from entry-level professional positions. Their findings show that fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women representing 57 percent of recent college graduates. Researchers also found that inequality starts with the very first round of promotions. In fact, the biggest gender gap occurs at the first step up to manager. From the very beginning of their careers, entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers. This entry-level gender disparity has a dramatic effect on the pipeline as a whole. If entry-level women were promoted at the same rate as their male peers, the number of women at the senior vice president and C-suite levels would more than double
This is where we can start to raise awareness and focus our energies. Why are women underrepresented? Look at a company’s hiring practices and first round of promotions. To make advancement available to more women we actually need to get more women in the pipeline, and not just seeking the jobs, but looking for advancement opportunities from the very beginning. We need to make the workplace welcoming for both genders in order to make this happen. As Kelly Stickel, CEO & Founder of Remondista writes at GirlTalk HQ, “The companies that identify the value of the female workforce will win. The ones that cultivate an environment that is inclusive of the female leader, will win bigger. Why is it important to make everyone feel welcome? When people feel welcome they perform better, more ideas come to the surface, leaving you with more options for solutions.”
We need to do more than simply nod at inclusivity and representation; we need to actually change hiring practices and look closely at the workplace culture. The ability to collaborate and welcome every individual, male and female, is crucial for success in the global economy. We need women from all walks of life to apply for the jobs, put in for the promotions, and take the lead to engage this untapped resource of feminine leadership.

You Can Be the Woman Who Is Helped Today

Keynote Speaker, Author, Leadership Coach

Judy Hoberman


After a successful 30-year career in sales and writing numerous books on gender differences in business, Judy Hoberman has found her true purpose and has focused on her newest goal, “to help one woman a day.” When she announced this goal to different groups of women, she was always surprised when a woman in the audience would raise her hand and ask, “Can I be the woman you help today?”
This is why Judy has expanded her reach in two ways: she wrote her new book, Walking on the Glass Floor: Seven Essential Qualities of Women Who Lead, and launched her new foundation at the same time. Judy knew that her purpose was to give women the tools they need to succeed in their careers, provide for their families, and have time to do what they truly desire. She already did this through the business she founded, Selling In A SKIRT, which is an acronym for:

  • Standing Out
  • Keys to Success
  • Inspiring Others
  • Results Oriented
  • Time Management
  • All while having Fun!!

Through coaching, consulting, sales training, speeches and a weekly radio show, Judy gives women important tools to help them succeed at their purpose.

Women Who Are Mentored Become Amazing Role Models for Other Women.

Walking on the Glass Floor is different than anything Judy has ever done. She began with the idea that if you have cracked through the glass ceiling, you are now walking on the glass floor. If you’re there, you have a responsibility to help other women get there too. Her purpose turned the corner of feminine leadership, to help women realize that we are phenomenal leaders and many of the skills that we don’t think of as being leadership skills are in fact the best tools for effective leadership.
Growing up and being told that she couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl created an obstacle for Judy that she felt she must overcome. In the process, she discovered her gifts, one being the way that she coped with being told that she couldn’t do something. It fueled her fire and she became all she wanted to become and in turn, was determined to help others do the same.

Create Relationships Before You Need Them.

Although her career was in sales, Judy doesn’t think of what she did as selling. She saw it as a form of communication and creating relationships. She helped people and worked with them to achieve what they needed. She advises her clients now to make relationships. It doesn’t matter who you are speaking to, there is always an opportunity for a wonderful relationship.

Help Another Woman Today

This conversation is full of helpful information for women leaders. Judy comments on women’s lack of self confidence. Even women who are at the top of their field have told her that the most difficult thing for them is having the courage to show their self-confidence. Dr. Nancy adds that it’s also fear of failure that holds many women back and comments on how much she likes Judy’s chapter on taking risks. Judy says she knows how important this information is for women and that is why she formed the foundation, to get the book into the hands of the women who need it and to help women in more ways than she could otherwise. The mission is to support women and women’s initiatives through writing, workshops and publications.
Underneath it all is Judy’s desire to help women know what incredible leadership skills they already possess. It only requires a shift of perspective to see how passion, a sense of purpose, a talent for creating relationships and working in collaboration can be essential tools in the hands and heart of a gifted leader.  Check out Judy’s website, Sellinginaskirt.com, for more information and listen to this conversation for more of Judy’s personal story and why she and Dr. Nancy say we desperately need more women leaders.

Your Voice Matters


Celebrated writer, speaker and women’s leadership coach, Tabby Biddle is on a mission to help women realize that they own something more precious than they ever realized living in a male-dominated culture – a Feminine voice that needs to be heard. In the process of her own journey to make her voice heard, she discovered a little-known fact. According to June Cohen, TEDx Producer, only about 20 percent of the short-listed TEDx Talks that came to her for consideration on TED.com were by women. Worse than this, only 15 percent of the recommendations that came in for the main stage TED were women. That led June to ask  an important question, “Where are the women’s voices?”
Tabby’s response was to assemble as many women for TEDx and TED Talks as she possibly can. After delivering her own TEDx Talk at St. Marks, Tabby began a coaching workshop where she not only prepares women to take the TED stage, but helps them find a TED venue where they can be accepted and successfully use their voice.
If you’ve never thought you could be a TED speaker, think again. Speaking on the TED or TEDx stage can be the highlight of your career. As a female leader or an emerging leader, delivering a TED talk is an incredible vehicle for you to spread your message, build your brand and share what matters to you most. So what’s holding you back? If you’re not convinced that your message is really important, consider that according to the latest studies, when more women are leaders, communities and organizations are more productive, profitable, innovative and successful. When more women are leaders, we also change society’s view of what leaders look like, how they operate, and how they respond to social, economic and political needs.  When more women are leaders, we raise the aspirations of women and girls around the world.
You are important. Your brand of leadership is important. By stepping on the TED stage  and using your voice, you can potentially change, not only your own path, but the path of thousands of other women and girls. More women like you need to share their stories and change the cultural conversation. It’s time to shed the fear and self-doubt and accept the responsibility to make your voice heard.
Tabby urges women to make the dream of speaking on the TED or TEDx stage a reality. She provides the practical support and guidance necessary to take your rightful place on the stage and step into your legacy as a change-making feminine leader. The next course takes place in January, 2018. Early registration is October 1. You can participate from any location in the world. Now is the time to share your idea and story. Imagine transforming your life by sharing your message with thousands of other people and making the impact you’ve always dreamed of making. October 1 is fast approaching. Share your story and become the feminine leader you are destined to be. Your voice matters more now than ever before.  Click here to find out more about how to touch the lives of the people who are waiting for you, and become the thought leader that you know you are meant to be.

Nice Girls Finish Frazzled

We can probably all agree that we want our daughters to be “nice” above just about anything else. While it’s a given that kids need to be taught to be friendly and have basic manners, many young girls are expected to prioritize niceness over expressing unhappiness or distaste. That pressure to please doesn’t let up for women entering the workforce. In fact, a new study to be published in Human Resource Management Journal finds that for a woman to be considered confident and influential at work, she not only must be viewed as competent, she must also be liked. For men, being liked ― defined in the study as exhibiting pro-social traits, like kindness and helpfulness ― did not matter.
One of the paper’s authors, Natalia Karelaia, an associate professor of decision sciences at Insead Business School in Fontainebleau, France, told HuffPost, “They have to be good performers and show some conformity to gender stereotypes to be successful at work. This means that women literally have to work harder ― and do more ― to get ahead.”
A recent Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership finds most Americans find women to be indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and innovation. In fact, many of those surveyed think women are actually stronger than men in the key areas of compassion and organization. However, women continue to feel the pressure to focus not only on the job, but on how they can be nice, approachable, and all things warm and fuzzy while doing it.
Marianne Cooper, lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In, wrote that, “High-achieving women experience social backlash because their very success – and specifically the behaviors that created that success – violates our expectations of how women are supposed to behave. Since we taught our girls to be nice above all else, grown women are expected to be nice, warm, friendly and nurturing. So, if a woman acts assertively, if she pushes her team to perform, if she exhibits decisive leadership, she is deviating from the social script that dictates how she ‘should’ behave. By violating beliefs about what women are like, successful women elicit pushback from others for being insufficiently feminine and too masculine.”
While this new study shows that niceness may help women in the workplace, the burden of carrying the extra pressure to always be nice can also hurt them. Leading Women co-author Lois Frankel, PhD, writes that it can make it harder for women to assume leadership roles and do it effectively. Frankel explains, “When they do, they often try to make everyone happy (which is impossible), delay decision-making by trying to get everyone’s buy in, hesitate to take necessary risks for fear of offending the powers that be, and communicate in ways that undermine their confidence and credibility. Ironically, each of these behaviors could work to the advantage of women – if only they would balance them with new behaviors that contribute to more effective leadership. In other words, stepping fully away from the nice girl messages learned in childhood, and into adulthood, is all it would take for any woman to be a phenomenal leader for this age.”
Frankel shares eight great tips to help women step into leadership in Leading Women, including tips on how to get in the risk game, ways to think strategically while acting tactically, ways to resist perfectionism, and how to consciously build your leadership brand. Simply implementing two or three strategies can create a dramatic shifts in how you feel about yourself, how others perceive you, and the impact that you make at work and in your community.
In order to strike a balance and lead authentically, we need to recognize the full potential of women, and throw antiquated, stereotypical views out the window. We need to embrace our power, take our seat at the table, and lead with our experience and abilities first, personalities second. It is time to level the playing field, achieve full equality and change the world.
 
 

Five Ways to Negotiate a Higher Salary

It’s a fact that women are underpaid. Nationwide in 2016, Labor Department data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. It’s important to keep in mind the wage gap isn’t limited to the C-Suite, but is prevalent across the board, and that disparity doesn’t just affect women, but their entire families. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families.
One way to narrow the wage gap is for women to negotiate a fair wage from the beginning, which for many, is straight out of college. More than three-quarters of employers said recent graduates appeared more confident when they asked for more money, according to a 2015 NerdWallet survey. Flexing negotiation muscle can also demonstrate your effectiveness as an employee.
Carol Frohlinger, JD, managing partner of Negotiating Women, has found in her research that most women simply do not negotiate, and only 16 percent of women she surveyed always negotiate compensation when a job offer is made or during performance evaluations. Ultimately, Frohlinger and her colleagues found that women are uncomfortable negotiating compensation and don’t do it as effectively as men.
Keep in mind that you are worth it. you have the skill set, knowledge, and experience for the job. Assume that your salary is negotiable, and that you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive. Here are five ways you can work to close the wage gap, and get the fair pay that you deserve.
1 – Know Your Worth. DailyWorth.com points how that you can’t score a great first salary if you don’t even know what a great first salary would be — so before you even get to the negotiation table, it’s critical to do your research. One great place to start is with Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth personal salary estimator, that offers a free estimate of what you should be making based on your job title, location, years of experience and other factors that you can use as a baseline.
2 – Exude Confidence. What do you bring to the table? Make a list of your major contributions and accomplishments, quantifying them whenever possible. BusinessNewsDaily.com points out that confidence is essential to being a strong negotiator. You must exude self-assurance, even if you insecure or uncertain. Don’t apologize for negotiating – own it.
3 – Ask. My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt recently wrote at Motto.com that as a small child, her daddy used to tell her, “She who asks, gets.” And one thing is sure: she who doesn’t ask is guaranteed not to get. Feldt writes the best way to get comfortable asking is to normalize it. “We have to ask until everyone, male and female, sees women’s asking as expected behavior. Ask until it feels normal to you. Flex those asking muscles and they will grow. Create a new stereotype — one that says, ‘you bet women ask.’”
4 – Silence is Golden. Katie Donovan, the founder of Equal Pay Negotiations says that one of the most important tactics to an effective negotiation is learning to become comfortable with occasional bouts of awkward silence. She says that women need to stop selling themselves and simply need to ask a question, then shut up and give the other person a chance to respond. The team at Fairygodboss points out one of their favorite practical negotiating tips from salary experts is to take a moment to be silent when you need more time to react, or think. Or perhaps, you simply don’t know what to say. Silence can play to your advantage. Nobody likes uncomfortable silences and you can use this type of delay tactic to buy yourself time to think.
5 – Make it Bigger Than You. Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid, suggests that women to think about how their decision affects others, and recommends that they consider how successfully negotiating can buoy the confidence of other women and help close the wage gap. You can also pretend you’re negotiating on a friend’s behalf. Another Harvard Kennedy School study showed that women who did so asked for almost $7,000 more on average than if they negotiated for themselves.
It’s time to change the status quo and work together to make negotiations expected, not defined by gender. Together we need to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, and ask for what we deserve. When we follow Feldt’s lead and ask until it becomes the norm, know what we’re worth, and advocate for one another, wage equality won’t continue to be a pervasive problem, but instead will become a distant memory.
 

The White House and the Wage Gap

During the past couple of weeks, the White House has been in the news for issues surrounding wage equality. While the the number of employees working for the White House is almost evenly split, with about 47 percent of the 359 regular employees being female and 53 percent male, the wage gap is alive and well.
Nationwide in 2016, Labor Department data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. However, women working in the White House earn an average salary of 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues, a CNN analysis found.  The average salary among men working in the White House was nearly $104,000, according to an analysis of the White House’s annual report to Congress, whereas for women, it was about $83,000. That’s $21,000 less on average.
This disparity is not limited to the current administration, but it is more pronounced. A 2014 CBS report found that the average female employee in the Obama White House earned about $78,400, while the average male employee earned about $88,600. That’s a gap of 13 percent – the same percentage as in 2009.
While recent statistics find the gender pay gap exists in almost every congressional district, the White House continues to lag behind the private sector. It’s unfortunate, because the economic impact of equal pay for women is significant enough that it should be at the top of strategies for economic growth. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Group, the United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality. The McKinsey reportThe Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States, finds that every US state and city can add at least 5 percent to their GDP by advancing the economic potential of women. Half of US states have the potential to add more than 10 percent, and the country’s 50 largest cities can increase GDP by 6 to 13 percent.
The White House Fact Sheet on Closing the Gender Wage Gap also reminds us that achieving equal pay for equal work isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. The wage disparity isn’t limited to the C-Suite or those walking the halls of the White House. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families. Researchers estimate that the country’s number of working single mothers who live in poverty would drop from about 30% to 15% if they earned on average as much as comparably skilled men.
Ultimately, we need to point out the pay injustices at every level in our communities and the workplace, strengthen our equal pay laws so that women are better able to fight pay discrimination, and build ladders to better paying jobs for women by removing barriers to  male-dominated fields. Together we need to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, and support legislation. Most importantly we need recognize this issue is not going to go away, and it will take all of our voices, our actions, and our strength to level the playing field. It is only by working together that we can achieve full workplace and wage equality, at the White House, or at the corner store.
 
 

We All Must Change the Status Quo

The recent cases of manterrupting in the news have refocused the spotlight on the age-old problem of men who, intentionally or not, monopolize the discussion or interrupt women’s speaking turns. As Tali Mendelberg and Chris Karpowtiz told CNN, women need more than a seat at the table, and their studies revealed that women are silenced when they hold a smaller percentage of the room. Further academic studies, dating back to as early as 1975, make it clear that being interrupted, talked over, shut down or penalized for speaking out is nearly a universal experience for women when they are outnumbered by men.

While women have to be able to gain equal time on the floor and be shown enough respect to make their ideas heard, the burden of changing the status quo should not fall only to women. As recently reported in The Atlantic, “Part of the problem with the usual advice for curbing these interruptions is that it puts the onus on women to do something differently. They are frequently encouraged to speak up—even though this is what they are so often prevented from doing in the first place and even though some men seem to view any amount of speech from a woman as annoying and superfluous.”

Judith Williams, a diversity consultant and former head of unconscious-bias training at Google warns that we have to be careful about ‘fix the woman’ type of thinking. At Google, Williams developed and led a “bias-busting” presentation, and later a workshop, which took on a range of patterns related to unconscious bias as it plays out in meetings, mentorships, and promotions. She recommended methods such as taking turns and stating a “zero interruptions” policy at the start of a meeting. She also encouraged an atmosphere where it’s okay to gently point out when a colleague is being interrupted and redirect the conversation back to them, no matter how senior the guilty party is.

There are many ways that male leaders can value, praise and advance women. To change the way men and women communicate and make their voices heard in the workplace is going to take all of us working together. Several companies are beginning to take note of the issue, and are taking steps to curb the problem – making sure employees feel comfortable and empowered at work, no matter their gender.

Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in Financial Times that she has witnessed a number of techniques used by effective male leaders to ensure everyone is heard. For example, not only should male leaders give a women credit for a point or idea when she makes it, it is also important to make sure that all women at the table have a chance to speak. Slaughter also writes that if a woman is interrupted, it is important that leadership makes sure to either forestall the interruption or to come back to her. That practice will again emphasize that you genuinely value what she has to say, rather than just hearing her voice. It is of course an excellent practice when men are interrupted too.

PR Week points out that the status quo is limiting. It’s damaging for women to be seen as bossy when they speak up at work. While much progress has been made, the reality is that there is a lot of work to be done before equality is achieved. By recognizing the problem, and working together to solve it, we can create workplaces that attract and retain top talent, and reach parity sooner rather than later. It is time that we truly work together to level the playing field, and create an inclusive workplace that supports both women and men.

Manterrupting Is Back in the News

Manterrupting, or men interrupting women has been making the news…again. From the Uber boardroom to the US Senate, powerful women, including Arianna Huffington and Senator Kamala Harris, have been victims, proving once again that when women break the glass ceiling, their journey is just getting started. In fact, women who step on to majority-male boards or committees often encounter barriers to their authority from men who, whether intentionally or not, monopolize the discussion or interrupt women’s speaking turns.
Last week, Tali Mendelberg and Chris Karpowitz told CNN that women need more than a seat at the table, and shared their studies revealing that women are silenced when they hold a smaller percentage of the room. Between 2007 and 2009, Mendelberg and Karpowitz looked at how women exercise authority in groups where they are a minority. Their findings showed that, “Where women make up a minority, they speak less, receive more hostile interruptions, refrain from articulating their views, and are rarely rated as influential. In other words, in meetings where women are scarce, they are actively disrespected. The group suffers, too, as its range of perspectives shrinks.”
The phenomenon hasn’t decreased with time. In 2015, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote in the New York Times about the perils of “speaking while female,” along with research proving that this happens to all women at some point. In the case of recent manterrupting involving Senator Harris, Sandberg and Grant reported that powerful male senators speak significantly more than their junior colleagues, while female senators do not.
They further cite that male executives who speak more often than their peers are deemed more competent (10% more), while female executives who speak up are considered less (14% less). Following the research, the two found that in the workplace, many women speak less, are interrupted more, and have their ideas more harshly scrutinized.
This has to change. Women have to be able to gain equal time on the floor and be shown enough respect to make their ideas heard. Gender communication expert and Leading Women co-author, Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D., urges women to speak out and get their voices heard to build their credibility as leaders, and in the case of manterrupting, she shares strategies for recapturing the idea:

  • Bring attention back to yourself
  • Buddy up with someone in advance and have them bring the attention back to you
  • Seek help from the meeting facilitator.

This final point, however, she warns might not work. The facilitator often gets caught up in the meeting and doesn’t control the flow of dialogue. It is most important to speak out for yourself. That’s why she stresses that the only way to be perceived as a leader is to express your idea clearly and make sure your voice is heard.
Bottom line, nothing squashes creativity and innovation faster than a perceived lack of respect for others’ opinions, and manterrupting, whether intentional or not is definitely disrespectful. Progress comes from mutual respect. The pendulum is swinging, and women are taking to the streets to make their voices heard, recognizing that their voices do have merit, and their opinions do matter. That means it’s time to clear the manterrupting from the conversation, and truly work together.

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