JUNE 16, 2017
Manterruption (n.)
An unnecessary interruption of a woman, usually by a man. 
Ask any working woman and she'll recognize the phenom: We speak up, only to hear a man's voice boom over ours. We chime in with an idea—and a dude interjects with authority. Research shows that manterruption is real: men speak more than women in professional meetings (yes, that includes the Senate floor), they interrupt more frequently, and women are twice as likely as men to be interrupted by both men and women when they speak and more if they are women of color.

Which brings us to Sen. Kamala Harris—or she who shall not be shushed. Faced with a stream of interruptions by male colleagues during last week's Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, the former prosecutor pressed ahead, noting that "the women of the United States Senate will not be silenced."

But how do you actually refuse to be silenced? That's where FFC comes in. Here are 9
 ways to shut down a manterrupter—suitable for women, men and Senators of all genders.

1. Engage in "Verbal Chicken"

Yes, that’s the verbal equivalent of two cars racing at each other at top speed until one of them (his) swerves. Your job is to stay strong and keeping talking. 

2. Interrupt the Manterrupter

Yes you can call out your manterrupter—“Hey, I wasn’t done talking"— but even more effective may be employing someone else to call the interrupter out, or to do it on behalf of your fellow woman. So next time you hear a woman being cut off, interject: “Hey can you let her finish?” If you can tell a woman is struggling to be heard, jump in and ask her to contribute. “Jess, I’m curious what you think?” She gets to speak—without being perceived as “too sensitive”—and you look like a helpful colleague.

3. "Amplify" Your Female Colleagues

That's what the women of the Obama White House did when they felt like they weren't being heard. More specifically, they'd invite each other to meetings to increase the female ranks (the more women in a room the more likely women are to speak), and then they'd "amplify" or repeat one another's ideas—directing credit back to their author. 

4. Lean In

We mean physically. There's at least one study that finds men are more likely to lean forward during seated meetings, and that such body language can actually make you less likely to be interrupted. Try it, and if you’re not seated at a table, consider pointing while you speak, standing up, placing your hand on the table, making eye contact. Bonus tip: men often arrive at meetings early in order to get a good seat. It’s not a bad idea, in general, to place yourself in the closest physical proximitto where the important conversations are being held.

5. Talk Tough

It’s pretty hard for someone to interrupt you while you’re speaking if you’re speaking with such authority that your audience is enraptured by what you’re saying. A starting place? Speak like you know what you’re talking about—no umssorrys or “I’m not sure if this is right, but..." allowed.

6. Establish a No-Interruption Rule

If you’re in a position of power: establish a no interrupting rule. Think of it like that elementary school trick of passing around a “talking stick.” Only this time, your stick is a whiteboard marker.

7. Notice How Much You Talk

As early as middle school, boys are eight times as likely as girls to call out answers in classroom discussions. This dynamic continues into adulthood, and even plays out in film and television, where male actors engage in more disruptive speech and take up twice as much speaking time as women. Pay attention to how much airtime your female friends or coworkers are getting, and give them the chance to speak.

8. Reach Critical Mass

One way to ensure that women are heard is to increase their numbers in the room. Research has also found that when there are more women present, what those women say is more likely to be heard

9. Call On Women

You know the trope about how women are the "chatty" ones? It’s not true. In male-dominated groups like, ahem, Congress, research has found it’s actually men who talk more — a whopping 75 percent more. Former President Obama has said he made a point of calling on women in meetings at the White House—why can't you?

Tips excerpted from Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace, out now from HarperCollins
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We are a semi-regular digest inspired by the
book Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett
FFC Chief of Staff: Sharon Attia.
Cover Image: Adapted from the New York Times

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