Let’s start with a few definitions:
Manterrupting: Unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man.
Bropropriating: Taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it.
Mansplaining: When a man explains something to a woman in a patronizing way and it often begins with a man completely disregarding a woman’s opinions by interrupting her mid-sentence.
As a women leader in business you have undoubtedly been faced with one if not all three of these circumstances. Your manterrupting moment may not have been as epic as Kanye’s treatment of Taylor Swift, but we often face times when men feel the need to overshadow our presence.
Here is a brief video that explains further the science behind mansplaining.
So how do we combat this obvious lack of respect in the workplace by our male counterparts?
How Not to Be ‘Manterrupted’ in Meetings she offers women some great advice:
Sit at the table, point to someone, stand up, walk to the front of the room, place your hand on the table — whatever it takes. Not only do these high-power poses make you appear more authoritative, but they actually increase your testosterone levels – and thus, your confidence. In some cases, it may actually help to literally “lean in”: in one study, researchers found that men physically lean in more often than women in professional meetings, making them less likely to be interrupted. Women more often leaned away — and were more likely to be interrupted.
Often we dismiss our ideas and contributions by apologizing before we even share. Jessica comments on that:
Don’t undermine your authority with “I’m not sure if this is right, but—.” Speak authoritatively. Avoid the baby voice (leadership and authority are associated with the deep masculine voice, not with a softer, higher pitched tone). And please, whatever you do, don’t apologize before you speak.
In the article Women Are Fighting Back Against Obnoxious Mansplaining, contributor Tod Perry provides a very public example that has happened recently in our political world:
Trump unleashed an attack on Clinton saying, “Without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for a city council position.” In a campaign where Trump has shown outright scorn for women, this looked like his first of many gender-based attacks on Clinton. The attack prompted many on Twitter to ask Trump to please “mansplain” what this nebulous “woman’s card” is that Hillary has been playing.
We have to be prepared for the fact that some men are actually unaware of how disrespectful and belittling their interruptions, credit taking and condescension undermines the feelings of the women around the meeting room. Rather than just “take it” we need to be prepared to stand up for ourselves.
Men also need to be aware when it happens and be an advocate for the women at the table. Jessica offers a few tips for men who are part of a work team where there may be one or more guilty of mansplaining:
Establish a No-Kanye Rule (Or Any Interruption, for That Matter)
When Glen Mazarra, a showrunner at The Shield, an FX TV drama from the early 2000s, noticed that his female writers weren’t speaking up in the writer’s room – or that when they did, they were interrupted and their ideas overtaken — he instituted a no-interruption policy while writers (male or female) were pitching. “It worked, and he later observed that it made the entire team more effective,” Sandberg and Grant wrote.
Practice Bystander Intervention
Seriously, stop an interrupter in his (or her) tracks. Nudge him, elbow him, or simply speak up to say, “Wait, let her finish,” or “Hey, I want to hear what Jess is saying.” The words are your choice — but don’t stay silent.
What you have to say is just as important as anyone else at the table. Lean forward, speaking clearly and confidently and make sure your voice is heard.
JJ DiGeronimo, keynote speaker for women, based in Cleveland, presents keynote addresses on women in leadership, diversity in business and advancement for women.