Women talk more than men.
Women talk less than men.
-*Which is true?
Context and expectations of the individual and others determine when females talk more than males, according to NYU’s Kay Deaux and Brenda Major of University of California Santa Barbara.
Participants equipped with digital “sociometers” recorded identities of people nearby and talk volume during a work collaboration project, and during lunchtime social conversations in a study by Harvard’s Jukka-Pekka Onnela and Sebastian Schnorf, with David Lazer of Northeastern and MIT colleagues Benjamin N. Waber and Sandy Pentland.
During the work project women talked significantly more than men, except when groups included seven or more people.
Larger group size suppressed women’s verbal contributions to the project.
In addition, women sat closer to other women in these groups.
In contrast, during social conversations, women talked the same amount as men, and even more than men when the group was large.
As a result, group size seems to affect women’s verbal participation in groups depending on the task focus vs. social focus.
This finding supports earlier reports of equal verbal participation by women and men by University of Arizona’s Matthias R. Mehl, collaborating with Simine Vazire of Washington University in St. Louis and University of Connecticut’s Nairán Ramírez-Esparza.
Together with Richard B. Slatcher of Wayne State and University of Texas’s James W. Pennebaker.
This group analyzed voice recordings from more than 390 participants, and concluded that women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day.
In addition, large group social settings seemed to enhance women’s verbal participation, in contrast to the opposite effect in collaborative work projects, found Onnela’s team.
The strongest difference in gender participation related to relationship strength and group size.
Contributions from all members of diverse work groups are required to produce the largest number and most innovative solutions, according to Loyola University’s Lu Hong and Scott E. Page.
They found that diverse work groups produce superior solutions compared with homogenous groups, even if groups were composed of uniformly top performers.
In fact, a group’s “general collective intelligence factor” is most closely associated with:
- Proportion of females in the group,
- Average social sensitivity of group members,
- Equal conversational turn-taking.
This “collective intelligence factor” is not related to the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, found Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris of Union College, with MIT colleagues Sandy Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone.
Diverse groups, including women, can most effectively produce innovative solutions when all participants contribute divergent views.
Women who consciously increase verbal participation establish visibility and professional credibility, while contributing to improved group performance.
-*How do you determine your degree of verbal contribution in work groups?
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