Study: Women, Find Your Voice (Heath, Flynn, Holt, Harvard Business Review, 2014)
Finding: Women and men view women’s participation and communication in meetings differently, when both understand the other and move towards the middle, and women learn to speak up, change can happen.
Note about The Woman Effect Research Index: This study was performed by researchers not affiliated with InPower Women. Our Research Index includes all relevant research to the subject of women, business and power. We do not influence how the research was conducted or reported by the researchers. In our abstracts, we focus on pulling out the most actionable advice for individual women. To suggest additional research we should index, or discuss our choice of abstract focus, please contact us.
InPower Insight: Much of the time, what you’re thinking the men are thinking ins’t necessarily what they’re thinking!
Women are often penalized for not participating in meetings more often and more assertively. This penalty is generally self inflicted by women who are not comfortable speaking up and establishing a presence for themselves in the meeting. This research demonstrates that men and women are picking up on different social cues and interpreting them differently. Neither is right or wrong, but the result hurts women. Learn what’s really going on and what you can do to increase the chances you’ll be able to establish a presence in meetings that gets you noticed the right way for the right reasons.
- Get in on the “meeting before/after the meeting” – social time where many decisions are made or influenced.
- Use assertive language, and keep your voice even (not lilting up.)
- Be concise.
- As for direct feedback and when you’re not getting it, be persistent and point this out.
- Don’t be afraid of taking a strong point of view.
- Don’t take challenging conversations personally.
Leaders of both genders can help. Invite women to meetings in numbers where they’re not outnumbered. Encourage them to speak up and be direct. Coach them and give them feedback on how they come across in meetings, guiding them to find their courage to participate to their full capacity and potential.
Career Coaching Tip: Communications is a key success skill. While you need to be authentic, you also need to learn to moderate your authentic communication style in ways that make you credible with the people you work with. Learning to communicate effectively is a skill just like learning to manage your time, your team and your resources.