Loquacious women valued less at work than verbose men
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Talkative women are getting snubbed in the
workplace, according to a recent study by a Yale University business professor.
Men who dominate office conversations are likely to
advance their careers, but women who do the same tend to be seen as less
capable, according to research by Victoria
Brescoll, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of
"Who Takes the Floor and Why: Gender, Power and
Volubility in Organizations” study, 156 participants were asked to read
an article about a fictitious chief executive -- described as a talkative man,
talkative woman, quiet man or quiet woman -- and rate their competency on a
seven-point scale. CEOs were conveyed as talkative or quiet based on how often
they expressed their opinions in relation to other executives. A rating of
seven was considered the highest score for competency.
Participants rated the competency of talkative male
CEOs a 5.64, on average, compared with 5.11 for quiet males. Talkative female
CEOs, on the other hand, were seen as less suited for their jobs, receiving a 4.83 rating and far underperforming quiet female CEOs, who received a 5.62.
What’s more, related research
found powerful women are mindful of the negative consequences of appearing to
be too outspoken and talk less than others in their organizations, while
powerful men talk more. Brescoll studied the amount of time men and women U.S.
senators talk on the Senate floor and cross-referenced that data with The
Record and a "power score” based on position, indirect influence,
legislative activity and earmarks calculated by Knowlegis, a non-partisan
private firm. She found men with more power talked more than men with less
power, but there was no significant difference in how much high- and low-power
"When men talk a lot and they have
power, people want to reward them either by hiring them, voting for them or
just giving them more power and responsibility at work,” Brescoll said. "But
when women do it, they are seen as being too domineering, too presumptuous.
Women perceive this, and that's why they temper how much they talk.”
"What's ironic is that good
leaders tend to also be good listeners,” she noted. "So harshly judging female
leaders for talking ‘too much’ could have negative consequences not just for
individual women, but also for organizations.”