Women ‘unable to talk the talk’
January 28, 2009
Women may be under-represented in the boardroom because they do not know how to talk the talk, according to new research from The University of Reading.
Language experts found female bosses have to adapt their language to be accepted by male counterparts and many find this too difficult.
In a paper published this month in the Journal of Gender and Language, Dr Judith Baxter, a lecturer in applied linguistics at the university, said bosses have to switch between ‘assertive’ masculine ways of talking and ‘co-operative’ feminine speech styles. Successful female bosses are those who adapt their ways of speaking to not sound too weak or too scary.
Dr Baxter said: “Women are involved in ‘additional conversational work’ to counter the effects of being typecast as ‘irrational females’. While their developed linguistic skills can be very useful tools, the efforts required in exhibiting these skills is also potentially stressful, time-consuming, undermining for the self.
“Women will remain under-represented in leadership positions unless there is a major cultural shift in attitudes towards language.”