Getting Heard

Janine U15767 at UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU
Mon Jan 15 12:43:04 EST 1996

Hi Sherry and all!
)n 15 Jan 1996 10:08:41 -0500 Sherry said:
>Re: several stories about women's contributions to discussion being
>ignored in favor of men...
>As a founding member of HAWAP (Hard-Assed Women Against Patriarchy <G>), I
>am ashamed to admit that I don't have a ready answer for how to deal with
>this situation. My suggestion is to check out some of the books by
>feminist linguists and communications types - Suzanne Haden Elgin, Deborah
>Tannen, etc. I think Deborah Tannen has a book out that specifically
>addresses male-female communication in the workplace, and may address this
>situation specifically (I'd be surprised if she didn't, it's so common.) I
>haven't read the book so I can't comment on its quality or usefulness.

I'm not arguing that this is a woman's issue, but my husband, an engineer,
has this happen to him all the time.  In meetings, since architects are
clients rather than colleagues, he allows their upstaging in order to keep
the customer happy.  Besides, he can work it to his advantage if the client
thinks that my husband's idea was the clients in the first place many times.

>I used to teach something called confrontation training, which is a method
>for dealing with harassment. There are four basic steps to a
>confrontation, and I've been trying to figure out how they might apply to
>this situation. Here, much abbreviated, are the steps:
>1. Make eye contact while maintaining neutral body language (e.g. hands at
>sides, no finger-pointing).
>2. Name the behavior in a way that generalizes it, with no apology or
>qualification (e.g. "Making comments about women's bodies is harassment)
>3. Tell him to stop the behavior you named, again in a way that
>generalizes the behavior (e.g. "Stop harassing women)
>4. Maintain eye contact for 3 full seconds after you finish speaking.
>Would this work in a seminar/journal club/meeting? I'm not sure - it might
>be perceived as too aggressive or confrontational. Maybe it could be used
>to confront the "perpetrator" after the meeting. The behavior statement
>could be something like: "You ignored my contribution to the discussion
>and gave Joe credit for saying the same thing I said. Ignoring people's
>contributions to discussions is rude. Next time you should pay more
>attention to who is speaking and what they are saying." The hard thing is
>to avoid using words or phrases like "please" and "excuse me" and to avoid
>I-statements (you ignored me, I felt ignored) - in a situation like this
>these things weaken your message.
>As I said, I'm not sure this approach is appropriate (unless the episode
>is particularly aggregious, obvious, or obnoxious).

One thing I have been taught to do in a seminar/journal club setting when
I am leading it is not to let the audience sway the discussion away from
what you are presenting.  This may mean not acknowledging the first one to
bring up a point, but then later maybe acquiesing to the pont brought up the
second time.  If this was the case, then maybe Sherry's method would be too
aggressive.  That's not to say it isn't needed in other situations, however!
I've given this a lot of thought, and I must say I cannot think of any
definitive answer!  I like the idea of standing up and stating your name
before making your point in a group that's large, but may I offer something
for that journal club setting where everyone knows you?  What about saying
your point followed by a question like:  "But what I really want to know is"
or a comment such as:  "That is important, don't you agree?".  Something
along those lines so that the leader is forced to acknowledge you.

I would love to hear other suggestions!

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