just wondering....

klier at cobra.uni.edu klier at cobra.uni.edu
Wed Mar 1 11:38:20 EST 1995

In article <3j13l3$dth at worm.hooked.net>, schin at worm.hooked.net (Stacey Chin) writes:
> I'm a senior in engineering and I just recently noticed that my ideas and
> thoughts just get ignored, but when a male to state the same idea it gets
> noticed. Has this happened to anyone else? If so how did you handle it?
> (Lots of lab classes and it gets more frustrating by the day.)             

Stuff a voice-operated tape recorder in your pocket sometime and record
a few conversations.  Listen to yourself and other people.  Are you
stating your ideas in the form of a question?  "Um, what if we
put this line of code in here?"  Or do you say (sort of "male speak" ;-) )
"This line of code belongs here, not there.)?  If you're not
stating your ideas as questions, listen to the intonation.  Are you
very soft spoken, and shy?  Does your voice go up at the end of a
sentence, like a question, or down, like the end of a statement?

Figure out how your style of speech is different from the folks
who get listened to, and see if you can make yourself sound more
authoritative.  You can actually do a pretty good job of combining
the statement style most males use, with the consensus style of
speech used by most females:  "Here's what we ought to do....  Right? 
Do we agree?"  This may feel much less bold/pushy/tough than flat

Do speak up for yourself.  "Hey, I just said that 5 minutes ago,
remember?"  "Since it was my idea, I'd prefer to be assigned to the
team working on it."  "Yes, as I said when I brought this up....."

Finally, practice.  Become comfortable with the idea that you
need to speak out, to be heard, that you *do* have good ideas
and comments that will help the project.  One of my frustrations
as a teacher is that many of the women in my class have *great*
ideas, but getting them to spit them out is like pulling teeth!

I noticed your surname... you may be running in to some cross-
cultural problems, too.  The students I have most difficulty
getting to speak up in class are probably female foreign exchange
students from the orient.  If your family and culture have trained
you to be quiet, speaking up for yourself can be more difficult.
It may help to mentally "put your scientist/engineer uniform on"
before you start work, just to remind yourself that this isn't
quite like home.

If you have lots of trouble in this area, you may also want to
consider a little training in "assertiveness" with someone who
can help you spot what's going on.

So raise your hand, stand tall, square up your shoulders, and
tell them your ideas.  You *can* do it.  And they *will* hear

Best wishes,

Kay Klier  klier at cobra.uni.edu

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