In her book How Women Decide, author Therese Huston talks about the notion that a woman’s decisions aren’t as easily accepted as those made by men and the fact that this could be holding her back from achieving greatness.
Huston, a cognitive psychologist from Seattle University explains: ‘There’s a huge double standard when it comes to how men and women are perceived as decision-makers. Men are respected as decision-makers more than women, especially in the workplace largely ‘because there’s this cultural belief that women are incapable of making smart choices at work’.”
The term “manterrupting” has been used to describe how men continuously and unnecessarily interrupt women while they are speaking (especially in a boardroom setup), as if to belittle them and hence claim authority.
While the official term for this behaviour is fairly new, women in the corporate environment have been witnessing or experiencing this kind of sexism for centuries.
Author and activist Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton Business School Professor Adam Grant both say that it’s not uncommon for women to feel less confident while addressing colleagues in the boardroom.
“We’ve both seen it happen again and again,” Sandberg and Grant tell Time.com. “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.”
What can you do to avoid getting “manterrupted” in meetings?
Speak up. Someone who speaks in a bold, clear voice is more likely to keep the attention of the audience. If you’re a bit nervous, make eye contact to try and gauge your panel.
Don’t be Miss Apologetic. If things are going wrong or you’re asked to explain or repeat something, do so with as much confidence as you can without saying “sorry” after every sentence. An overly apologetic person is easy to overpower, especially by the opposite sex.
Kwanda Dlamini, a Product Specialist for Mercedes-Benz, told DESTINY in a previous interview that breaking into a predominantly male-dominated industry has been especially challenging for her as a young, black woman, with some suggesting that women in the motoring industry should be limited to working in the sales team.
“I often get questioned – directly or indirectly about my role,” she shares. “The numbers are against us, but I do believe that if you have a passion for it, you will enjoy working in the industry. The time has come for the fairer sex to take a stronger stance.”
Jo-Anne De Wet, who was the first female Director of Operations at McDonald’s SA, says that she’s had the advantage of not being restricted by any form of discrimination because of her gender. Instead, she’s adopted the “sticky floor” principle.
She explains: “In my mind, I cast myself in a position where I have a clear vision for myself. My dilemma comes in with the limitation I set to try and get to those destinations even quicker. At some point, I was declining or questioning my own ability and experienced elements of fear. I asked myself; ‘Do I have enough experience? Will I be able to cope on a personal level and not just a professional level?’ I’ve learned to shake it off through the demonstration of the men in the business. You’ll find that men have the same amount of anxiety, but won’t demonstrate or verbalise it in the workplace.”
– Additional source: The Telegraph UK; Time.com