Administrative Science Quarterly. The author, Victoria Brescoll, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, studies how stereotypes impact an individual’s status and power within an organization. In this particular study, she looked at the 2005 and 2007 U.S. Senate sessions, comparing how often male and female senators spoke according to their legislative position and power. She found that the more powerful the male senator, the more they spoke — but not so for the female senators.
Brescoll also conducted a separate experiment for the study, asking participants to imagine themselves as either the most or least powerful person at a work meeting. Men who perceived themselves as the most powerful said they would talk more than other team members during the meeting, while women who imagined themselves similarly said that they would speak for the same amount of time as their low-powered counterparts. Why? Because they didn’t want to be disliked or perceived as controlling.
Mori’s comments reinforce Brescoll’s findings about how women are perceived when they speak at meetings. “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 in a post on Yale’s website about the study. “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.”
Unfortunately, women don’t just censor themselves when in leadership roles, but they are still not getting the same opportunities as men to take a seat at the table, if events are any indication. The recent shift to digital hasn’t helped to level the playing field when it comes to equal gender representation among speakers and panelists at events. Convene recently reported that the Gender-Avenger Tally app continues to pick up on imbalances in gender diversity during virtual meetings.
Jennifer N. Dienst is managing editor at Convene. This story was updated Feb. 15.