Women Speak Less When They're Outnumbered


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Women Speak Less When They're Outnumbered

Scholars at Brigham Young University and Princeton examined whether women speak less than men when a group collaborates to solve a problem. In most groups that they studied, the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation -- amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.

The new study is published by the top academic journal in political science, American Political Science Review.

"Women have something unique and important to add to the group, and that's being lost at least under some circumstances," said Chris Karpowitz, the lead study author and a political scientist at BYU.

There is an exception to this rule of gender participation, however. The time inequality disappeared when researchers instructed participants to decide by a unanimous vote instead of majority rule.

Results showed that the consensus-building approach was particularly empowering for women who were outnumbered by men in their group. Study co-author Tali Mendelberg of Princeton says these findings apply to many different settings.

"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," Mendelberg said. "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.'"

For their experiments, Karpowitz and Mendelberg recruited people to be part of a group and discuss the best way to distribute money they earned together from a hypothetical task. In all, the researchers observed 94 groups of at least five people.

On average, groups deliberated for 25 minutes before settling the matter. Participants voted by secret ballot, but half of the groups followed majority rule while the other half decided only with a unanimous vote.

Notably, the groups arrived at different decisions depending on women's participation -- swinging the group's stance on the level of generosity given to the lowest member of the group.

"When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion," Karpowitz said. "We're not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation."

cited fromhttp://phys.org/news/2012-09-women-theyre-outnumbered.html

3 Comments

I find this to be a very interesting topic. The question that came to mind while reading this was that do you think men could have participated more because they were in the presence of women? Do you think its possible that men chose to participate more because they wanted to seem superior to the women around them and maybe impress them? This could be a potential answer as to why women couldn't get a word in and how it affects the image of women in different boards and members of groups.

Hey Shuqi!

This article was an interesting read. Women have always been overshadowed by men. Most if not all companies in the world today are ran by men, women having lower standings in the industrial hierarchy. I agree with Courtney, above; Men probably think its necessary to prove that they are "higher" than women by participating more, or maybe they just view woman in an inferior way. ">http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-420513/Sorry-women-dependent-men.html"> This article explains women's dependence on men, it's worth to take a look. They explain this "dominance" through women's dependence on men and their dislike in financial responsibilities. I honestly think it's just the concept of "majority rules". The majority of people in committees are male, hence male dominance.

Your blog topics are always of interest and I must appaud you for that! Women who do not advocate for women's right or even defend them always bogle my mind. In what can only be referred to a faux "post- feminist" era, men continually try to assure women that they have all their rights but is that true? Forbes Magazine published an article addressing issues of "The Glass Ceiling," which is an invisible barrier that prevents women from attaining higher ranks in their career. They are continually looked over for promotions and jobs at the top of the corporate ladder. Forbes thinks these are the obstacles include:

"Prejudice: Men are promoted more quickly than women with equivalent qualifications, even in traditionally female settings such as nursing and education.
Resistance to women’s leadership: People view successful female managers as more deceitful, pushy, selfish, and abrasive than successful male managers.

Leadership style issues: Many female leaders struggle to reconcile qualities people prefer in women (compassion for others) with qualities people think leaders need to succeed (assertion and control).

Family demands: Women are still the ones who interrupt their careers to handle work/family trade-offs. Overloaded, they lack time to engage in the social networking essential to advancement."

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2011/11/14/is-there-really-a-glass-ceiling-for-women/

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