Amplification

Currently, there are only 104 women out of 535 seats in the United States Congress.  Clearly women are grossly underrepresented on Capitol Hill.  Even within the White House presidential aides are mostly men.  Women have to fight to make their voices heard and opinions valued.  In an article on attn.com a female aide on President Obama’s staff spoke to them about how the female staff overcame being ignored.

What they did was simple yet effective.  When one of the other women would say anything, other women in the room would echo it.  By doing this, the men in the room couldn’t just talk over them and the comment get passed over.  They called it “amplification” and it began to work quite well.  Even the president noticed and according to one of the female staffers he “started calling more often on women and junior aides.”

In a sociology class I took duing my sophomore year in college, I learned that men are natuarally more prone to talking over and interrupting women.  In contrast, women have the tendency to wait for pauses in conversation to interject.  There have been multiple academic studies on this subject and have overall found that premise to be true.  Men are simply more likely to interrut women.

In this NY Times article from March of 2015 an example of men talking over women was discussed.  The Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt repeatedly interrupted U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and was called out on it.  As the article later points out, interruption isn’t always “a sign of disrespect or dismissal” and it can often be a side effect of intimacy.  You may be more likely to interrupt a friend than someone you don’t know.  However, it may be acceptable to find that the male aides in the White House interrupting women is objectionable since the workplace isn’t exactly an intimate space.

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Image of President Obama and aides taken from this Politico Article. Gif of Hillary Clinton taken from attn article.

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