A nice discussion, here, of that infuriating argument that there aren’t many women politicians/professors/video gamers because women don’t want to be politicians/professors/video gamers.

Itís nice to try and assume that we neednít change anything. Women who want a part of it, get it; the vast majority simply donít want it.

The post includes a quote from a paper that analyses gender differences in communication in an online university-level course. The findings are detailed, the explanations are thorough and there are dozens of references. The paragraph that follows mirrors my own experiences as a graduate student, as a teacher trying to include the women in discussions and even as a woman out on the town with male and female friends and colleagues. Listen:

[M]ale students tended to dominate the online discussion for a time period (many times over days). When a female interjected a message, the resulting trend was an abundance of more female messages. Time after time this female pattern of communication was stopped by a male message of an extraordinary length (usually pages and pages), a message containing a female “put-down”, or a message of an arrogant nature. After this occurred it was often days before female students would post any messages.

There are far more detailed descriptions of how men and women wrote differently. For instance, men’s posts lacked social softeners and relationship-builders like please, thank you, do you think so, I hope this helps you. They rarely asked questions and often gave answers. They rarely referred to themself or gave personal information. They tended to present their statements as absolute, unquestionable, correct, and they often used put downs to other people in the group.

Although I didn’t find this in the paper quoted above, Sherry Garner Ray also claims that when women acted like the men were acting, they didn’t succeed. Quite the opposite: they became social pariah, outcast both by the men and by the women.

Encouraging, isn’t it? The thing that might be the hardest to deal with is that men seem to have no idea they’re even doing this.

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan David Leavitt

    Who wrote that “women don’t want power” nonsense? They obviously never met my mother.

    On second thought, maybe *she* wrote it. óJDL

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