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October 01, 2018


LynDee Walker

I applaud your observations and your actions, Donna. Growing up in the south, I was taught from such an early age I don't remember a time when I didn't think this, that I talk too much. It's true that I am pretty extroverted for a writer, and I like to share information when it's a topic I know about and ask questions when it's one I don't. With age, I have learned to jump through longer stories and think through what I'm about to share before I start, with the question of "what value does this add to the conversation?" in mind. Years as a reporter definitely made me better at listening. And observing. And from those observations I would say you are correct: such an experiment today would have about the same results in many places, I fear. I wonder, thinking about my own upbringing, if it would make a difference if, instead of teaching girls to be mindful of everyone else above themselves, we taught them that their voices and opinions are as valuable as anyone else's. I'm trying with own daughters, but have noticed that no matter how "equally" I think I'm treating them and their brother, they gravitate toward letting others go first, being less aggressive, and deferring the speaking floor much more than my son does. I just can't figure out why.

Brenda O'Brien

Take a look at the new dystopian novel Vox, by Christina Dolcher. Women and girls are limited to 100 words a day! It made me too angry to read right now, but very thought provoking.

Liz Milliron

The benefit of going to an all-girls high school - my daughter (now at a mixed-gender university) has no problem holding her own in a class conversation. In fact, when her poly sci professor said he didn't vote, she was the only student who objected (he asked her to stay after class - we both think it was a ploy to spark conversation and she was the only one who bit).

Deb Romano

Donna, I am reminded of a literature course I took when I was a senior in college in 1971. The professor had a reputation for having a dim view of women. A question on the final exam asked us to “prove the inferiority of women” by references to specific instances in the literature we had read that semester. I still remember the looks on the faces of all the female students.

Cath Hoffner

Go Donna! I applaud you for reading the research and doing the experiment. Leave if they don’t over run the conversation.

Marla Bradeen

I love this so much. I do have to wonder what the response to such an experiment would have been like in your other classes. Would the professor have reprimanded you? Encouraged you to tone it down? Or would they have backed your decision to make yourself heard? And yes, I doubt things have changed much. (Also, Deb Romano, that literature professor sounds horrible.)


I think it was Prof. Robin Lakoff (but it might have been Prof. Deborah Cameron) who summed up the apparent paradox of the folklore that women talk too much with the fact that women talk so much less than men. It blew my mind in a linguistics lecture. She(whichever she it was) said "we've been assuming the line between just right and too much is equality. But the line - the ideal - is actually silence."

Susan C Shea

A big part of the rationale for women's colleges.

Elaine Viets

Good for you, Donna, and good for you for speaking up. Our generation was taught to "listen first, then speak."

Julie Herman

Good for you!

Storyteller Mary

Brava! I'm reminded of reading a a strategy of women in meeting amplifying each other's comments by referring to them by name, "I agree with Donna's suggestion that we . . . " It also prevents the stealing of good idea by men who then take the credit.

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