Tag Archives: equality

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” -Fran Lebowitz

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Women’s tongues are like lambs’ tails – they are never still. –English

The North Sea will sooner be found wanting in water than a woman at a loss for words. –Jutlandic

The woman with active hands and feet, marry her, but the woman with overactive mouth, leave well alone. –Maori

When both husband and wife wear pants it is not difficult to tell them apart – he is the one who is listening. –American

Nothing is so unnatural as a talkative man or a quiet woman. –Scottish

Where there are women and geese, there’s noise. –Japanese.

The tongue is the sword of a woman and she never lets it become rusty. -Chinese

Women clearly talk more than men, right? The stereotype is so strong across so many cultures and places so clearly this is one stereotype based in fact. Right?

Right?

Well, let us look at the evidence.

Researchers reviewed sixty-three studies that looked at how much American men and women talked when put together in various situations. Out of sixty-three studies, women spoke more than men in exactly two.

In New Zealand, a researcher compared the talking time of experts and interviewers on television. In situations where the time was meant to be split into thirds, men took over half of the time. Every time.

Another researcher analyzed the talking time of men and women in 100 open forums. Women dominated those discussions…7% of the time. When the participants were equally divided along gender lines, men still managed to take two-thirds of the speaking time.

I had a meeting with a [female] sales manager and three of my [male] directors once…it took about two hours. She only spoke once and one of my fellow directors cut across her and said ‘What Anne is trying to say, Roger, is…’ and I think that about sums it up. He knew better than Anne what she was trying to say, and she never got anything said.

Let’s look at some other professional situations, shall we?

Years ago, while producing the hit TV series “The Shield,” Glen Mazzara noticed that two young female writers were quiet during story meetings. He pulled them aside and encouraged them to speak up more.

Watch what happens when we do, they replied.

Almost every time they started to speak, they were interrupted or shot down before finishing their pitch. When one had a good idea, a male writer would jump in and run with it before she could complete her thought.

A Yale psychologist tracked the speaking time of new senators and those with more tenure and leadership. She found that tenured male senators spoke much more than their junior colleagues, but female senators’ speaking time did not significantly increase with time or power.

After discovering this gender inconsistency, the psychologist asked professionals to judge the competence of executives based on how often they shared their opinion. Male executives who spoke up received 10% higher competency ratings. Meanwhile, female executives who shared their opinions openly received 14% lower competency ratings from both men and women.

Another analysis showed that women who make their companies significant revenue and contribute good ideas do not receive better performance reviews and are not seen in a better light by their bosses. Men, however, are.

A researcher at UT had various males and females suggest a proven idea for streamlining their team’s inventory. He found that the women who suggested the new idea were viewed as less loyal by their leaders and those leaders were less likely to take the suggestion. Even when the leaders were told that one member of their team was given unique, helpful information, the women were ignored.

Women do not talk more. They know that talking more will do them harm, both professionally and socially. All those pictures up top saying that women outpace men by thousands of words per day? False. The erroneous numbers seem to have started with someone trying to sell a book. The real numbers?

But in the end, the sexes came out just about even in the daily averages: women at 16,215 words and men at 15,669. In terms of statistical significance, Pennebaker says, “It’s not even remotely close to different.”

So, our daily averages are about the same, but in mixed and professional situations, men dominate time and again. There is abundant research that this starts early–we’re talking elementary school early. From the classroom to the boardroom, women are not heard in public. Being listened to in public is a confirmation of importance and social status. So what does this say about where society places women? What does it say about how women view themselves?

To be fair, many of those pictures up top seemed to be referencing couples, not executives. So:

Another study compared the relative amount of talk of spouses. Men dominated the conversations between couples with traditional gender roles and expectations, but when the women were associated with a feminist organization they tended to talk more than their husbands. So feminist women were more likely to challenge traditional gender roles in interaction.

It seems possible that both these factors – expert status and feminist philosophy – have the effect of developing women’s social confidence. This explanation also fits with the fact that women tend to talk more with close friends and family, when women are in the majority, and also when they are explicitly invited to talk (in an interview, for example).

So, women are starting to realize that they are worthy of a voice, both in their relationships and in public. We still only expect people to listen to us if they are close to us or if we are an expert on the topic, but it’s progress. But that is how we see ourselves, how do the men see the women?

When a teacher worked at giving equal talking time to both boys and girls, he felt he was giving the girls 90% of his attention and his male pupils agreed. They complained angrily about it, in fact. Got that? An attempt at equality is seen as overwhelming favor and bitterly resented.

The same thing happens at seminars and debates, too. At a workshop where 32 women and 5 men were in attendance, analysis showed that the 5 men spoke over 50% of the time. They said what they wanted to say and set the tone for what was to be said and how. The researcher noted that there was no hostility, but the pressure the men exerted on the conversation was accepted without comment or question.

When women are given equal time to talk, it is believed that women were given more than their fair share. After all, what is fair in a patriarchal society? Dale Spencer says this:

The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.

How do we fix this extreme disparity? I’ll talk about that in my next post.

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“And if your heart’s full of sorrow: keep walking–don’t rest.”

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I remain unconvinced that I will ever know myself fully. There always seems to be another Identity Uncertainty looming near or within me. Not a crisis, mind you. It’s just that this thing that is me is ever-changing and I’m only clued in on the conscious actions, which seems to be a great minority of who I am.

So much about me was determined the moment sperm met egg. Even more was determined before my brain had the capacity to form lasting memories. I have been entrenched in a civilization that I have all but no control over since before I took my first breath.

pathway-to-the-light-of-heaven-lee-yangMy biases were formed while I was learning to form sentences. They hardened as I created opinions. Crack them as I might, shall they ever be destroyed? Do I have that power? Or can I only let in as much light as possible and try to enclose my children as little as possible?

I’ve been called an overthinker many, many times. I tend to think this isn’t a bad thing though it has its disadvantages, one of which is constantly questioning my own motivations.

As a feminist, I wonder how much my personal preferences are influenced by patriarchy. I am an amalgamation of sexual desire and detestation. I rarely wear makeup or heels, but I shave and am counting calories to lose weight. Sure, the ebb and flow of desire is natural and losing excess weight tends to be better for your health, but how much of that is true for me personally? My perception of my body and its processes are filtered through a billion ideas about what a person should be, what a woman should be, what a woman with my racial/biological/educational/ideological background should look like, what she should think and do and feel. How much is me and how much is what I think I should be?

I heard a quote recently. It was one of those moments where someone perfectly expresses a concept you’ve had on the tip of your tongue for years. I could almost feel my brain cells shifting into a new pattern. The quote was brought up during a radio discussion about why we feel like we’re different people depending on who we’re with.

“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”
-Thomas Cooley

Indeed.

Whitman was right. We contradict ourselves. We contain multitudes. So be it.

I am coming out of another long period of Identity Uncertainty. The time spent within always feels dark and depressing, but I come out better for it on the other side. Sorrow is inevitable, we must savor it as much as joy. Such is life.

My perspective has shifted again. As it should, as it must, as I am thankful for. May I never stagnate.

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“So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
-Stephen Chbosky

If you are wondering where the title quote came from, check out the student-made advertisement below. If ads were like this, I would watch more television.

We’re all (nearly) equal now …

It’s International Women’s Day. I didn’t have the time to write a post about my convoluted feelings on the matter. Thankfully, I can point you to this post instead. It says everything I wanted to say, better than I would have said it.

We’re all (nearly) equal now …

 

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Blooming Society Sunday

Every Sunday I share a bloom – a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.

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This Week’s Bloom: Shop Conscientiously

 I’ve heard it said that we all have a choice in where we spend our money. I don’t think that’s always true. We are limited by our geography, time, and budget. Still, when the opportunity arises, we should choose to shop responsibly.

Most everyone has heard of the Fair Trade Federation. Their seal of approval is on products around the globe and their commitment to equality has been spread with every purchase. 1% for the Planet is another international organization making a name for themselves. When you see their seal, it means that the manufacturer contributes at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes. Seeing either organizations’ insignia makes it easy to choose between similar products.

Sites like Shop With Meaning and Green America are great resources for finding online and local retailers who care about the social and environmental impact of their products. If you’re a reader of used books, check out Better World Books. They take book donations and rescue discarded library books to sell on their website. Every time a book is purchased on their site another book is donated to one of the hundreds of non-profits they work with. Through grants and fundraisers, they have given millions of dollars to literacy programs around the world.

Credit: ACFE
Credit: ACFE

Another important measure of a company is how they treat their employees. Every year, the Human Rights Campaign compiles a massive guide based on their Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies based on they treat LGBT employees. Here is a PDF of their 2015 guide. It’s a ton of information, so they have also developed handy apps for Apple and Google.

Choosing where to spend your money is only one side of the consumer coin. Choosing where not to spend your money is equally important. Boycotts have been around since the late 1800s and can have a lasting impact on the practices of companies big and small. Ethical Consumer keeps a running list of current boycotts on their website alongside their product guides and company ratings.

If you do any of your shopping online, check out Green Any Site. It is a bookmarklet that will allow you to donate a portion of your purchase cost to environmental charities at no cost to you. That’s a no-brainer if you ask me.

Do company policies have an impact on where you shop?

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” -Winston Churchill

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Who are you? What makes you, you?

Depending on who you consult, the answer varies.
Are you:
what you eat?
what you wear?
what you know?
what you say?
your thoughts?
your actions?
the face you show the world?
what other people think you are?
what you think you are?
what you love?
who you love?

All are interesting hypotheses, all imbued with shades of truth. Yet they all oversimplify the matter. An individual is an amalgam of hard wiring and experience, a singular synthesis of humanity.

For the first time in history, Churchill and those like him aren’t the only ones with the power to write their own autobiographies. Philosophers throughout time have reiterated again and again that history is a fable written by the victors because their words were the only ones recorded. This fundamental idea that history is only ‘based on a true story’ rings slightly less true in an age when so much of the world can log onto an interconnected internet and share their story and point of view via a thousand different social media platforms. Regardless of the platform one uses, if you can log on, you can connect.

There are problems with our current system. Corporations are footing the bill for content and that means advertising is in charge of the vast majority of those platforms. But crowdfunding, freemium services, and user-supported media are slowly eating away at the need for every website to ‘sell out’ just to keep the lights on. In the United States, net neutrality is in jeopardy even though the people have spoken and 99% support neutrality. The reason for the overwhelming support is clear – no one wants their voice tamped down by the powers that be.

Internet access is considered so important in today’s society that the United Nations declared it a human right, but the number of people still without a platform to tell their stories is surprisingly high. More than 60% of the world’s population does not have any access to the internet. The graphic below shows the percentage of citizens that are internet users in each country.

 

internet users percentage
Source: International Telecommunication Union

Was the United Nations right, should internet access be a human rights issue? I do not even hesitate to answer yes. It is easy to dismiss the importance of something overrun with angry comment sections and pictures of cats, but the internet is much more than that. It is a bastion of knowledge, a refuge for the lonely, an unending source of entertainment. It is a global market, the local coffeehouse to all who enter. It does not replace the hangouts we haunted before Google came around, but it does do something they can’t – it sends our lives, our stories, our truths to all we seek to share them with and then saves it all for posterity.

I won’t deny that there are some creepy angles to the way our information is used by the websites we entrust it to. The rules and regulations of our virtual lives must be constantly revisited and updated. Still, saving our present for the future to see may be the greatest gift this generation gives to humanity.

Think for a moment about a historical figure, anyone. Go on, I’ll wait.
Got it? Good.
Now consider what you have recalled. What did they look like? What were their personality traits?
Do you feel like you have a good handle on who they were?
If you’ve researched this historical figure before perhaps you can tell me what they are famous for; perhaps even what they ate and wore, who and what they loved. But unless they wrote down their own histories as Churchill planned, it’s near impossible to imagine what someone from the past was really like.

Anyone who has looked through photographs from the 1800s has probably thought that the people in the pictures lived very serious, stately lives. Even the kids look solemn:


Just taking a glance makes it easy to think of these children as much different than ourselves as kids. But these children are not stern robots of the past. They laughed, ran, played, and cried just like the rest of us. The way we study history too often leads us to view its figures as one-dimensional caricatures. But what happens when we catch a candid glimpse?

Not so hard to imagine them as living, breathing, emotive human beings now is it?

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
― George Orwell

The victors are not the only ones with voices anymore, but we still don’t have a complete compendium of human experience. Everyone has a right to be heard, to offer their history as they understand it. In order to stop seeing other human beings as more than merely ‘other’, we must see their smiles and their tears. We must hear their stories. Mark Twain posited that history does not repeat, it rhymes. If the poetic verses of the future are to be written in tones of equality, we must give everyone a pen.

The internet may contain a distressing amount of cruelty, but it has an impressive aggregate of individuals spreading compassion with every virtual interaction. The world wide web does not have to be a zero-sum game. It can change the world for the better, teaching us more about ourselves and introducing us to everyone else, if only we use it that way.