GENDER AND COMMUNICATION
Who Talks the Most?
• In mixed-gender groups, at public gatherings, and in many informal conversations, men spend more time talking than do women.
• For example, in one experiment, the men with expertise talked longer than the women with expertise.
• Men initiate more interaction than do women.
• Men are more likely than women to interrupt the speaking of other people.
• A study of faculty meetings revealed that women are more likely than men to be interrupted.
• Some of the interruptions that women experience come from other women. (Women, when they do interrupt, are more likely to interrupt other women than they are to interrupt men, according to two studies.)
• Women are more likely than men to allow an ...view middle of the document...
What are the Gender Patterns in Informal Group Meetings?
• When the floor is an informal, collaborative venture, women display a fuller range of language ability. Here, in the kind of conversation where women excel, people jointly build an idea, operate on the same wavelengths, and have deep conversational overlaps.
Is There a "Women's Language" Connoting Uncertainty and Deference?
• The use of tag questions ("It's really cold in here, isn't it?"), disclaimers ("I may be wrong, but . . ."), and question statements ("won't you close the door?") all decrease the perceived assertiveness of speech. However, research has not confirmed that women and men differ in the frequency of their use of these forms.
• Raters perceive those who use a deferential language style (super polite language, hedges, and hesitations) as having less power but more personal warmth.
Does it Matter?
• Those who talk more are more likely to be perceived as dominant and controlling of the conversation.
• Those who talk the most in decision-making groups also tend to become the leaders. Especially important are "task leadership behaviors," such as asking questions, helping to set up structures and procedures for the groups, giving information and opinions, and identifying and solving problems.
• Interrupters are perceived as more successful and driving, but less socially acceptable, reliable, and companionable than the interrupted speaker.
• In a study of trial witnesses in a superior court, undergraduate student observers saw both female and male witnesses who use powerful language as being more competent, intelligent, and trustworthy than those who use powerless language.