Studies prove that women are interrupted more than men, and here's what we can do about it
We’ve all been there: You’re in literally any situation with a man, talking about anything from politics to work, and you’re interrupted. It’s probably happened to you multiple times. Well, now you can rest assured that it’s not all in your head — there’s new research proving that women are interrupted more than men.
Donald Trump did it to Hillary Clinton during the primaries. A male panel moderator did it to a female scientist, even though she was the expert. Just last week, California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) was interrupted by a male colleague during a hearing. Even the male justices on the Supreme Court do it, and they’re interrupting women like Ruth. Freaking. Bader. Ginsburg.
So, yeah, men interrupting women is a thing that happens a lot, and you’re not alone.
The problem is so pervasive that in 1975, a group of researchers commissioned a study to pin down exactly how bad the problem of manterruption is. They found that in the 11 male-female conversations they observed in public places, there were a total of 48 interruptions — and 46 of them were perpetrated by men. That’s nearly the majority of interruptions, you guys.
So what should women do to combat this annoying and silencing behavior?
Experts have a few different recommendations. First, if you’re on the shy side, you can calmly point out that the speaker interrupted you by saying something like, “Why did you interrupt me?”
“Many times, the person who frequently interrupts others is not aware of the habit or has not be told of the habit in a respectful way,” said Carla Marie Manly, a licensed clinical psychologist in California, in an interview with New York Magazine. “If possible, have a ‘behind the scenes’ talk with the interrupter. Give the interrupter a few helpful, thought-provoking tips.”
If you’re dealing with manterruptions at work, you can try asking to institute a “no-interruption” policy, where no one is allowed to cut in while someone else is speaking. Or band together with your female colleagues and vow to interrupt interrupters, pointing out when they speak over others (especially women) in meetings.
You could also just continue speaking, or point out to the interrupter that you’ve not yet finished your thought. Those may be more aggressive options, but they certainly work for some people and they’re a definite way to claim your thought space.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t be afraid to make your voice heard, and help other women be heard as well. We have a lot to say — and we deserve to speak our mind.