Something funny happens when a woman speaks up

If you watched any of the Golden Globes, (or the highlights on YouTube) you would have caught the at times searing opening monologue by Amy Poeler and Tina Fey where they made multiple jokes about the serious issue of sexism in Hollywood. Here are some gems:

  • Boyhood proves there are still great roles for women over 40 as long as you get hired under 40.
  • George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person UN commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.
  • Steve Carrel’s Foxcatcher look took two hours to put on including his hairstyle and makeup. Just for comparison, it took me three hours today to prepare for my role as human woman.

and this fiery jab:

  • In Into the Woods, Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from her tower for her prince and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.”

On Monday two writers published an editorial about women in the workplace, particularly in the US Senate and beyond. Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant share some research on women speaking and add some commentary in their New York Times piece, Speaking While Female.

We’ve both seen it happen again and again. When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.

Some new studies support our observations. A study by a Yale psychologist, Victoria L. Brescoll, found that male senators with more power (as measured by tenure, leadership positions and track record of legislation passed) spoke more on the Senate floor than their junior colleagues. But for female senators, power was not linked to significantly more speaking time.

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When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings. As this and other research shows, women who worry that talking “too much” will cause them to be disliked are not paranoid; they are often right.

image credit: Flavorwire

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