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women-speak-up-less-in-groups-of-malesNew Study Shows in a Group of Men, Women are Less Likely to Speak Up.

A recent study shows that when in a group that is predominantly men, women are 75 percent less apt to speak out and involve themselves in the conversation or debate. A study by Brigham Young University in cooperation with Princeton set up discussion groups and observed how groups interacted, including in a problem-solving way and from a hypothetical situation involving money. When the majority of the group members voted on a decision, women were less apt to speak up. But when the decision was a unanimous one, the women spoke up significantly more.

The study showed that out of the 94 groups studied, when the women did speak up, they often had something different and unique to the conversation with perspectives that had not been considered. 

Oftentimes, women are outnumbered by men in places of leadership, such as school boards, legislative groups and such. And the reality is that in many of these organizations, the consensus is that the vote be a majority one in order for a by-law or law to pass.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is a bit alarming if our women are not contributing to the dialogue.

How to Be Assertive

Realistically, in our culture, it is more accepted for men to assert themselves than women. And more women are apt to not speak up because it’s more natural for women to set aside their feelings and wishes to keep the peace with the other person or people.

Upbringing plays a part too. If you grew up in a house where your feelings were invalidated and the atmosphere was rigid, you are more apt to keep your mouth shut.

  • Do not give in to interruptions until you have finished your sentences.
  • Teach yourself that it is OK to say “No.” Give yourself permission to feel anger, make mistakes and ask for help when needed. No one is perfect.
  • When you do say, “No,” say it in a decisive way. Tell the person why you are saying what you are saying, but not with a tone that is apologetic.
  • Don’t drop your eyes when the other person is looking at you. Resist the urge to nod your head excessively or smile too much. 
  • When expressing yourself, use words such as “I feel,” or “I want.” But do recognize the other person’s feelings verbally. Repeat back what you hear them saying, to be clear.
  • Practice with family and friends and get their feedback. The more you get comfortable with asserting yourself, the happier and more well-rounded you will be over time.
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