Is This Unconscious or Conscious Bias?
Susan Chira’s article certainly hit a nerve. The Universal Phenomenon of Men Interrupting Women concludes that “academic studies and countless anecdotes 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.” This must-read article will cause your jaw to hang open as you read story after story of women being interrupted and spoken over by men.
Why are women not taken seriously and why is our input downplayed, ridiculed, or simply ignored?
I wonder, is this bias unconscious or conscious? Is talking over women something that exists today only because it always has? Perhaps this behavior is so deeply ingrained that we don’t even know it is happening. Is this embedded DNA? The men’s code that causes men to stick together and willingly target women as the object of their displeasure? Or, is it a reflex of feeling threatened that makes men deliberately attempt to diminish women’s contribution until women are regarded as small and insignificant? Is this for self-bravado or due to a fear of breaking the brotherhood bond? I’m at a loss. If you have insights, please share them.
Women who speak up and ask questions are NOT admired as daring, bold, and fierce. When we raise our voices to be heard, we are called difficult to deal with, opinionated, disruptive, the b* word—or worse. Jokes are made about our emotional or hormonal state. Our right to our opinion is challenged and we are often considered incompetent or not knowledgeable. All because we have something important to say. This is a big reason why women need other women!
Don’t believe me? Here are some recent public examples:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to Elizabeth Warren’s choice of quoting a letter that was written by Coretta Scott King. Warren was told, “the Senator is to take her seat” when the content of that letter was perceived as violating Rule 19, which basically states that no senator should use words to impute another senator.
During a recent Uber board meeting, Arianne Huffington remarked that more women need to be brought onto the Uber board. Board member David Bonderman said in response, “actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.” That alone would be bad enough publicity for Uber. But it leaves you speechless when you remember the board members were meeting to address the hostile sexist culture of Uber. Seriously. Bonderman resigned under much public pressure—and that’s how a bad joke can cost you a board position.
Here in California, we elected former prosecutor and outspoken woman, Kamala Harris, to ask hard questions and get answers. Jason Miller, a former adviser to President Trump’s campaign described Senator Harris as “hysterical” and said she was shouting during her questioning of Mr. Sessions.
The problem is pervasive
I wrote about this phenomenon in my book Happy Woman Happy World. I believe this behavior in modern-day men is a leftover from the caveman days where everything revolved around survival. Men sought out other men with the highest skill levels. They tolerated the biggest jerk, even supported him, if it meant survival. Does this remind you of something? Men still do this TODAY!
Women, however, evolved. And history shows that every time women try to make leaps forward, the same men who still believe the same old stuff put us in our place. Literally and virtually.
So, what are we going to do about it? How do we react to being told to be quiet and sit down?
The good news is there are great men out there who have shed their caveman ways and evolved into respectful men of the 21st century. They figured out that the tides have shifted, and they know supporting women is the right thing to do. These men encourage women to speak up and stand up in their organizations so together we can discover new and better ways of doing things.
Turn on your TV and tell me if you think that it’s working out well for the desperate white males who are holding onto their power behavior. Data shows conclusively that we are better together. That means nothing but 50-50% is acceptable.
In the words of an executive at a public company, “When I hire white men I know what the outcome will be. The same as it’s always been.”
I am ready for change. Are you?
At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”
Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.
If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.