Interruptions, for example

You are so lucky! You get to see Bernice Sandler’s talk at Women in Secularism 2012, at last.

It’s about the subtle, unnoticed ways women and men are treated differently.

What??? Really? Is that true? There are subtle, unnoticed ways women and men are treated differently?

Who could ever possibly have guessed…


  1. says

    I was at an event a couple months ago, sort of a small workshop with 25 people or so. And I noticed that every time one of the women opened her mouth – EVERY TIME – some guy’d talk right over her or interrupt her. It was pretty cringe-worthy, especially since I realize that I’ve done that, myself, more than a few times. 🙁 After a bit I started interrupting the interrupters, “Hey! Emily was talking…” but I don’t have a clue if it helped. I’m not sure what’s a good way to handle that kind of situation. 🙁

  2. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @Gregory in Seattle
    It’s not subtle, it’s just that there are penalties for women pointing them out.

  3. says

    An excellent talk, and I concur with Sandler.

    I have had the opportunity to conduct technical meetings (as chair) across many months with gender balanced groups. I have managed to achieve about 80% gender equal behaviour, through various techniques (e.g. disregard inappropriate male interruptions, maintaining eye contact with the interrupted female until she continues).

    However, my intuition is that the last 20% is a barrier, due to our hormone-vulnerable-biology. And unlike other inequalities (ethnic, cultural, and such), gender equality seems to require constant vigilance.

  4. leni says

    It was a really interesting and entertaining talk. And yes, women do it to other women too. I’ll definitely be watching myself closer for this kind of thing. I never realized that there were gender differences in this behavior, I don’t think I ever even thought about it. I think I just assumed that some people were just more rude and never noticed when I was that rude person.

    But looking back, I can think of many, many examples. Like during a recent training session in which I was the only female. Trainers would barely look at me. We took turns going around the room answering questions from the final test. I was the only person he cut off mid-sentence, before I even answered the question (no, I wasn’t rambling. I said “I’m not a 100% sure, but I think it comes from the….”). He cut me off, answered for me and then had the gall to say “A lot of people miss that one”. I wasn’t wrong, I had the correct answer written down but he didn’t even give me time to say it before he assumed I missed it :/

    You know what he said to the guy who said he couldn’t answer because he didn’t even finish the test? “Go ahead and give it a shot anyway.”

    *Sigh* I could think of many, many more. Maybe the saddest thing is that even though this just happened last week, I had not seen Berenice Sandler’s lecture and wasn’t aware of this pattern. During the training, I assumed it was my fault for admitting that I wasn’t 100% sure before I answered and that made me feel both stupid and like I talk too much. Yeah, I thought he was rude, but somehow I still put the responsibility for that on myself.

    And yes, it did put a damper on my willingness to participate in the training. Jesus, it’s almost frightening to think of how easy it is to participate in your own public shaming without even really being aware of it.

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