Have You Been Silenced Before?


>>The >>silencing of Senator Kamala Harris Wednesday by our own North Carolina Senator Richard Burr and Senator John McCain felt familiar to me. I’ve been there before. I’ve sat in a meeting and pushed for answers and fought to make points – only to have male colleagues work collectively to dismiss me.

You know the feeling. You’ve been there too. You collect a point in your head at a meeting, you assert yourself to answer, and your mail colleagues interrupt you, or share smiles as they answer, as if to say your point is ridiculous and unfounded.

It happens in boardrooms and offices and (fill in the blank) around the country, and Wednesday it happened in a very public forum on a very important issue.

Sheryl Sandberg calls it ‘manterrupting’ and defines it as unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man. It’s a problem that’s >>well documented by researchers – as if you needed any proof. In this research published in the New Republic, men interrupted females 25% more often in a three minute period than their male colleagues. To be fair, women interrupted other women, compared to men, at an even higher rate.

Sandberg offered these tips on how to overcome ‘manterrupting’ in the workplace in an >>article in Time magazine.

  1. Establish a no interruption rule in work meetings.
  2. Practice bystander intervention. Have a moderator interject if someone is being interrupted.
  3. Create a buddy system with a male friend who will nod and look interested when you speak. (That sucks that we have to do this, but I’d be inclined to try it.)
  4. Support your female colleagues. (We don’t do this nearly enough ladies)
  5. Practice assertive body language.
  6. Don’t undermine your authority by saying “I’m not sure if this is the case, but …” or “Maybe this is …” and abandon the baby voice.

And back to this happening in our Congress … I know one sure fire way to fix it. Elect more women.


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