Yet we have known since the 1980s. No, women do not speak more but less than men, no offense to the boss of the Tokyo Olympics Yoshiro Mori, 83, who complained during a meeting with officials from the Japanese Olympic Committee that “boards with a lot of women take a lot of time.”
Words very criticized, and which resulted in the announcement of his resignation on February 12. But he is by far the only one to believe in this false image of women with their tongue out. Explanations from Ginka Toegel, professor at IMD and researcher in the fields of leadership and human behavior.
Le Temps: Why are we often persuaded that women talk more than men?
Ginka Toegel: There are several factors behind this persistent myth. One of them is Tokenism: when a minority makes up 15% or less of a group like women can be, they are much more visible, and what they can say or do will be considered valid. for the whole minority.
This cliché is also maintained throughout the world: in German for example, there is an expression that could be translated as “a man, a word, a woman, a dictionary”. Another reason for this misconception is that if women don’t speak more, they do indeed speak differently.
That is to say?
Studies have shown that when men communicate, the point is rather to signal that they know, to assert their status by sharing information. For women, it’s more about engaging the other in the conversation. They use little turns of phrase like “don’t you think?”, “See”, to invite interaction. But these phrases are perceived by others as a lack of self-confidence, and give the impression that they speak more, since all the words spoken are not absolutely necessary.
However, in the 1980s and 1990s, several studies, including that of Professor Janice Drakich, proved the opposite. More recently, in 2014, a study from George Washington University showed, among other things, that men are 33% more likely to interrupt a woman than another man. Including in the spheres of power. It’s not that women talk too much, it’s often that they don’t even talk enough.
How can we ensure we move towards more equality, but also combat these clichés?
It’s difficult, because studies have shown that the more power you have, the more you are expected to speak. But also that when a man is talkative, he is perceived as competent, whereas when it is a woman, it is a sign of incompetence. Women are sort of right to be afraid to speak out.
I think the first step is to be aware of this reality. Women can also work to eliminate those turns of phrase that project a lack of self-confidence. Everyone can also react when a woman is systematically interrupted, or faced with comments like those of Yoshiro Mori. But I am optimistic: times and states of mind are changing.