Why do qualified women feel they need to qualify themselves in the boardroom?

27 Jun

Do you verbally hold yourself back? (pic credit: istockphoto)

Fascinating report about women’s language patterns letting them down in the boardroom: the study from linguistics expert Dr Judith Baxter, from Aston University, found that women put themselves down, apologised and used humour when facing conflict in the boardroom.

This type of language is called ‘double voice discourse’ and often makes women sound weak and non-assertive by prefacing what they’re about to say with phrases such as ‘I’m sure this won’t go down well but’ and ‘sorry for talking so much’. Instead of just saying what they want to say – and mean it – they feel they have to qualify themselves somehow.

The research suggests that women may use other tactics to avoid confrontation and get their own way, but that these linguistic behaviours weren’t doing women any favours. However, they are apparently limited to when women are outnumbered by men, which suggests to me that’s why there’s such a huge growth in the number and effectiveness of women-only associations and networking groups.

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