How to motivate women to speak up

In mixed groups, women don’t talk as much as men. This is perhaps related to women being perceived as “bitches” if they do, i.e. pushy, domineering creatures whom one would best loath and avoid. Lindy West at Jezebel comments:

…it just goes back to that hoary old double standard—when men speak up to be heard they are confident and assertive; when women do it we’re shrill and bitchy. It’s a cliche, but it’s true. And it leaves us in this chicken/egg situation—we have to somehow change our behavior (i.e. stop conceding and start talking) while simultaneously changing the perception of us (i.e. asserting that assertiveness does not equal bitchiness). But how do you assert that your assertiveness isn’t bitchiness to a culture that perceives assertiveness as bitchiness? And how do you start talking to change the perception of how you talk when that perception is actively keeping you from talking? Answer: UGH, I HAVE NO IDEA…

One problem with asserting that your assertiveness doesn’t indicate bitchiness is that it probably does. If all women know that assertiveness will be perceived as bitchiness then those who are going to be perceived as bitches anyway (due to their actual bitchiness) and those who don’t mind being seen as bitches (and therefore are more likely to be bitches), will be the ones with the lowest costs to speaking up. So mostly the bitches speak, and the stereotype is self-fulfilling.

This model makes it clearer how to proceed. If you want to credibly communicate to the world that women who speak up are not bitches, first you need for the women who speak up to not be bitches. This can happen through any combination of bitches quietening down and non-bitches speaking up. Both are costly for the people involved, so they will need altruism or encouragement from the rest of the anti-stereotype conspiracy. Counterintuitively, not all women should be encouraged to speak more. The removal of such a stereotype should also be somewhat self-fulfilling – as it is reduced, the costs of speaking up decline, and non-bitchy women do it more often.

Interestingly and sadly, this is exactly opposite to the strategy that Lindy finds self-evident:

…But I guess I will start with this pledge I just made up: I, Lindy West, a shrill bitch, do hereby pledge to talk really really loud in meetings if I have something to say, even if dudes are talking louder and they don’t like me. I refuse to be a turtle—unless it is some really loud species of brave turtle with big ideas. I will not hold back just because I’m afraid of being called a loudmouth bitch (or a “trenchmouth loud ass,” which I was called the other day and as far as I can tell is some sort of pirate insult). Also, I will use the fuck out of the internet, because they can’t drown you out on the internet. The end. Amen or whatever.

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  • Silas Barta

    Clever analysis, but likely to end up with you getting the internet equivalent of a horse’s head in your bed.  (Well, at least if it were Robin_Hanson saying this, anyway…)

  • Doug

    Lindy West might be a “bitch” compared to the median women. But if the population of women speaking up at any given times skews bitchy, then she might be below the median weighted by amount of speaking up.

    I.e. she could still be a big bitch, but the typical woman speaking up could an even bigger mega-bitch. In which case her speaking up more would still decrease the power of the statistical discriminant on the margin.

    It’s not just non-bitches who should speak up more (and the converse bitchy women less). It’s any woman who’s less of a bitch than the average uppity bitch.

    • All women with a valuable opinion on the matter at hand should speak up. That is, most women, on most matters should speak up!

      • churchofrationality

        Huh? You think most women have valuable opinions on most matters? I strongly doubt that. Most people, including myself, have nothing of interest to contribute to most topics.

      • Simone Simonini

        I agreed with you at first, but after thinking about this issue I am not sure you and I are framing it correctly.  Most discussions that matter probably concern topics like where to eat dinner or what time to schedule a meeting rather than how the Fed should set interest rates.
        These are topics where personal knowledge and preferences are more important than expertise.  In such discussions, it can be particularly bad if a class of people with similar experiences and preferences are not contributing to the discussion.

        One could extend this argument to less “trivial” topics if you assume some groups of people lack the perspective to understand others needs or see the discussion as a means to resolve conflict rather than identify an optimal solution given a common utility function.

        This response is a little convoluted but I think that is preferable to glib.

      • bitch love

        Listening to oneself talk, which most women love to do, doesn’t necessarily constitute an opinion of value amongst the group. Simply self perceived value.

      • > All women with a valuable opinion on the matter at hand should speak up. That is, most women, on most matters should speak up!

        From whence do you get the belief that most women have valuable opinions on most matters?

        That seems deeply counter-factual to me (feel free to remove the gender aspect from my assertion: I also think that the same holds true for men).

      • Esmero

        Most people have nothing relevant or important to contribute on most topics, and, more often than not, there’s no real value or insight to be gained from a woman providing “the female perspective” when her only qualifier is that she was born with an extra X chromosome.

  • John

    In addition to the super-bitchy set, there’s also extremely attractive women, who speak up because men will humor them due to their looks. So there’s another group of loud women who reinforce a negative stereotype of women.

  • Martin-2

    Could it also be the case that men receive too much slack in these settings? Maybe the solution is more people shutting up, not less.

  • ” If all women know that assertiveness will be perceived as bitchiness”

    …which is a giant leap.

    “those who don’t mind being seen as bitches (and therefore are more likely to be bitches)”

    This follows only from your sexism.

    • Katja Grace

      How is postulating a causal link between not minding being seen as a bitch and being a bitch sexist? 

      • rationalist

        Anything which is any way related to a negative thing about women is sexist. It’s just a common rule of political correctness.

        By positing a “causal link” between bitchy women and women who don’t mind being seen as bitchy, you are explicitly assuming that bitchy women exist. “Bitchy” is a negative thing. Therefore you are a sexist.

        There are a few exceptions to this. One is that you are allowed to say negative things about women who harm children, in the context of a discussion about such things.

      •  The true politically correct would object to the term “bitchy.” The term does, one must grant, liken aggressive women to canines.

      • Peter

        I’m not even sure that last part is true.  Most women I know including the one I married believe women can do no wrong period the root cause to any problem can be traced back to a man even if it’s as straw grasping as sperm was used to make her.  Let’s not pretent in the modern age hell no longer hath fury like a woman , ESPECIALLY if it’s in a public setting.  I have, and will continue to see, women defend other women whom, in a private context, to quote Salton Sea “Wouldn’t so much as walk across the street and piss on them if they were on fire”.

      • Peter

        Sorry on the last post, lesson learned not to use pseudo code as part of speech in this system.  [insert anything that involves her not getting her way or being wrong in any way]

      • I’m not sure it’s sexist, but I also don’t think it’s correct. 

        Are people who are ugly not concerned about being seen as ugly, since they will be anyway? Are people who are dumb not concerned about being seen as dumb, because they will be anyway? 

        As far as I’ve seen, those who possess negative trait X are the MOST concerned about being seen as possessing it.

        Women who are frequently seen as bitchy (whether they are bitchy or are merely perceived as such) are the ones most likely to be concerned about coming off that way. Bitchy is not a binary thing; there are degrees of bitchiness. Those who deal with the ramifications of being bitchy are the most likely to want to come off as non-bitchy, or at least less bitchy.

      • manwhoisthursday

        Part of the trait of bitchiness is lack of concern for others.

      • Why are you assuming that bitchiness is a quality one is born with, like looks or intelligence, instead of as a personality trait that can be modified? People who are bitchy might complain about others who consider them bitchy and label it unfair, but they have the ability to change that perception, unlike the ugly person. Not taking steps to change their demeanor suggests that they care less about how people perceive them.

        In such a way, a better analogy might be that being bitchy is like being fat: sometimes you can’t help it, but at the margin if you really are concerned about it you can make changes one way or the other.

  • manwhoisthursday

    I am not sure how this comes out as a stable equilibrium with non-bitchy women speaking up as much as anyone else.  The bitches will always be the ones who want to speak out more, so the first time you take the lid off it will be the bitches who were dying to speak who will jump at the opportunity to do so again.  It seems to presume an equal desire to speak on the part of bitchy and non-bitchy women in general.

    Perhaps a better strategy is to encourage men to support and mentor women, to vouch for women who do have good ideas.

  • consider

    The assumption being made is that women know as much about a topic as men in a given group but this is often not the case, Around the year 2000, a Pew survey quized men and women in three catagories of news: 1) politics-business-international relations 2) health and family 3) entertainment.

    Women knew much more than men about actors and actresses and knew as much as men regarding health and family issues. But on average, college educated females knew only as much as a male with a high school degree with respect to business and politics. 

    That is a large gap, so it would make sense that many women would feel less comfortable then men if the topic was business or politics. I bet men who did not graduate college also feel less inclined to speak out.     

  • adrianratnapala

    …But I guess I will start with this pledge I just made up: I, Lindy
    West, a shrill bitch, do hereby pledge to talk really really loud in
    meetings if I have something to say,

    The thing is that even if Ms. West’s maxim as bad for the “anti-stereotype conspiracy”, it is still correct for broader reasons.  Ms. West making valid points is a good in and of itself.

  • Drewfus

    What problem are you trying to solve?

    • An excellent question.

      I often see long discussions of “how we can get more women to be engineers”, and I understand the GOAL, but I don’t understand the PROBLEM.

      It might be that X% of engineers being female is a problem, but I rarely if ever see anyone attempt to explain how or why.

      Similarly, it may very well be that utility would be increased if women spoke more – but a priori I don’t know that.

      • There are several issues with the lack of female engineers:
        (1) With engineering specifically, we have a serious lack of qualified engineers (in the U.S at least, and many other countries). Out in Silicon Valley, companies are struggling to hire software engineers — even top companies like Google and Facebook. This is hurting the US’ ability to grow companies. If as many women went into engineering as men, this would be a HUGE win for the US and for the world.

        (2) It’s likely that the lack of women in the science is not due to an inherent difference in preferences, but rather a society pressures. That is, people (who happen to be female) who *would have* been interested in the science are being discouraged from this. This is, of course, a problem. People should have opportunities open to them.

        (3) The lack of women in certain fields leads to harassment and general increased discomfort. This is a bad thing, right?

        (4) Because there are fewer women in the sciences, women face discrimination and sexism. For example, in one study (see my twitter post — something I retweeted from temiri about 8 hours ago — for the citation), academics were given resumes from men and women for a lab manager position. The resume were *identical* other than the names, which were used to indicate gender. The academics said they’d offer the male candidates $30,000 and the female candidates $26,500. On a scale from 1 to 7, the female candidates were also rated significantly less competent (3.3 vs 4 for men) and less hireable (2.9 vs 3.76). I would hope you agree that it’s bad thing that people are unfairly being paid less.

        (5) The lack of gender diversity affects the development of technology in a number of ways. For example, there was a story a few years ago about some voice recognition technology that was bad at recognizing women’s voices, simply because there hadn’t been enough women around to train the program. This may seem like a very specific and obscure example, but there are any number of ways this comes up. Is the lack of women in the sciences affecting innovation in, say, breast pump design or other things that only women really deal with? Or, let’s say women are more visual than men. How does this impact innovation, if there are fewer visually oriented people around?

        That’s just off the top of my head, but I hope that it can get you thinking.

      • manwhoisthursday

        It’s likely that the lack of women in the science is not due to an inherent difference in preferences, but rather a society pressures.
        This is extremely questionable.

      • Peter

        (1) Simply isn’t true.  There is a lack based on a willingness to pay paltry wages for the amount of effort.  More women engineers won’t change this unless they are coming from a third world country.

        (3) Not a true statement and yes.  Having worked in all male organizations there was almost no harrassment of the type you think and the little harrassment there was increased productivity.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t have mixed employement workforces but enough studies have shown that while this may be preferential as a society so we feel good about ourselves it is not without it’s downsides and one of those is a decrease in productivity and openness. 

        (4) See (3).  Also the market could be pricing her for her worth.  Part of wage determination is future growth, retention of institutional knowledge, etc.  There is  a case to be made she will leave the company prior to man (kids?), willing to work less unpaid hours, take more time off (kids, family stuff, woman health issues, etc), in general be more difficult to work with (time of the month, lower lack of self control, etc).  I’m all for equal pay for equal work but that only applies at the margins with all else being equal nor is it discrimatory, I pay a male worker with twenty years experience more than a male worker with two even in the same position.

        (5) Is a quality control issue.

      • (1) Simply isn’t true.  There is a lack based on a willingness to pay
        paltry wages for the amount of effort.  More women engineers won’t
        change this unless they are coming from a third world country.

        What he said. Outside of a few specializations, engineering salaries haven’t been increasing. If there’s really an engineer shortage, where are the engineers with $200,000 annual salaries?

    • Katja Grace

      Whatever the point is of conversation, people seem to feel it is better fulfilled when the parties actually converse. Men and women both seem frustrated often that this doesn’t happen. If the reason for it not happening is a signaling equilibrium that makes it costly, having this signaling equilibrium seems probably not worth it, as the information from the signal is not very valuable.

      • Peter

        I no longer believe that Katja.  What most people want, or at least IMHO, is an avenue to express themselves and then be vocally supported by their peers and enemies.  I find it rare that people, especially in a non-private situation, truly want discourse or conversation about anything of substance. 

      • Drewfus

        I asked the above question after having considered a comment on another blog, that was along the lines of; “Libertarians think the free market is the solution to all social problems”.

        Being essentially Libertarian myself, i introspected as to whether i considered society to be a set of problems, waiting to be solved and ultimately eliminated by smart people. The conclusion i came to was ‘No’. Society is not a set of unsolved problems with identifiable solutions, and especially not a set of problems with a single solution.

        What the ‘Liberal’ who made the claim about Libertarians was doing was projecting his own social meta-assumptions onto his political enemies – but those meta-assumptions are not shared, IMO, by Libertarians or Conservatives. Perhaps the Liberal critique of ‘right-wing’ thinking is flawed from the ground up.

        More fundamentally, are humans actually capable of solving social problems *at the social level*? I don’t think we can. If we had the nous to abstract away from the social domain, rather than just being embedded in it, then surely there would be another, higher level of human behavior – and one one requiring a much larger brain – than the social level. A level that is at our cognitive limit, such that we can interact and gain some degree of competency there, but not actually reach the stage of being able to *solve problems* at that level, in the technical, know-how sense.

        So, any intelligent system can operate at n levels of abstraction, but can only do problem solving at n-1 levels. The social domain is the nth level for humans – ergo, humans cannot solve social problems. If you try to name one, like vaccination programs or public sanitation, then you are really talking about health programs that most people accept voluntarily, or in the second case, civil engineering.

  • Brazzy

     An important factor you seem to overlook is that if women are traditionally expected to speak less, then any women who goes against that tradition is probably percieved as “bitchy” for that fact alone, which means that even “bitchy” women speaking up more often could make a positive contribution against the stereotype by chipping away at the tradition.

    • Yes, there seems to be a whole group of people not taken into account–the assertive women who do speak up and, while not bitches themselves, are perceived as bitches because of their assertiveness.  When Lindy West claims she is a bitch, I don’t necessarily think she’s claiming that she’s a bad person, but only owning the title and accepting that whether or not she is, some people will call her that simply because she is speaking up. I’d like to think she is simply owning that (and encouraging others to own that) so that when it happens she’ll be ready. (I wasn’t ready … )

      I feel like it’s kind of a mind-trick.  If you accept yourself as a “bitch,” then when other people call you that, you won’t feel the need to appease them.  You’ll just say “Well, that’s who I am.” Whether that’s a healthy way of thinking, I don’t know …

  • Why is it likely that there is any correlation between a woman being inclined to speak up, and a woman being one whose contributions are less valuable? I’d expect the reverse to be the case.

    • rationalist

      paul, a “bitchy” woman is not a woman with less valuable contributions. “Bitchy” is a descriptive term that is about someone’s personality and agenda (manipulative, domineering) not about the epistemological quality of their factual statements oryourrockr problem-solving ability. 

      The association between “bitchiness” and speaking up in a group is probably complex. My guess would be that it is because women who want to be manipulative and controlling need to speak up to exert control, and by way of signalling, other women speak as little as possible. The same thing isn’t happening in men so much, again for complex reasons. My signalling explanation is that speaking up signals confidence in a man, which is a signal that every man wants to send (women select men for mates based on it) so it isn’t such a strong indicator of manipulative intent.

  • Could you define your terms? What’s your definition of “bitchy”?

  • bitch love

    For those who need a bitch measurement, Lindy West is simply a bitch. Her attitude has nothing to do with how a culture perceives her. If she moved to Mexico (please do!), I’m sure people would see her as a bitch there. Straw man.

  • V_V

    In mixed groups, women don’t talk as much as men.

    The article says “Women speak less when they’re outnumbered”. What happens when they aren’t?

    This is perhaps related to women being perceived as “bitches” if they do, i.e. pushy, domineering creatures whom one would best loath and avoid.

    Or this is perhaps related to women having lower testosterone levels?

  • AC

    Ah silly Katja, don’t you know it’s all coalitional status warfare?  “Me and my sister against my cousin”…and you’re not supposed to say anything negative about your bitchy “sister!”

  • Jim

    I have  over the years come to beware of confident people. So maybe the solution is partly to convince men that confidence is often over confidence and so they should seek the opinion of those who seem under confident. that should bring in more women.

  • AC

    To be more serious, you’re missing the alternative strategy.  You’re trying to create a world in which non-bitchy women speak up, and women who speak up are not regarded as bitches.  The alternative is the massively enhance the status of women in general, so that it would be unacceptable to criticize a speaking woman regardless of whether or not she is in fact a “bitch.”  This seems to be the strategy employed by Ms. West and cohorts.

    Note a crucial difference between the two outcomes.  Your proposal requires that “bitches” make some sacrifices to enable deserving women to get ahead.  Ms. West’s approach would continually raise the status of “bitches.”  (Note that in her utopia, bitches would still continue to dominate discourse at the expense of humbler women.)

    Determining why certain women would prefer Ms. West’s proposal to yours is left as an exercise for the reader.

    • Anon

       Revealed preferences!

    • Peter

      It should be acceptable to criticize any speaker.  Men who speak up are also judged and often negatively as not a team player, long winded, assholes, etc.  This cuts both ways. I’m with Katja on this one and the other commentors in that if you don’t want to be perceived as a bitch don’t be a bitch.  I give the same advice to assholes yet nobody is suggesting that assholes be giving free reign.

    • Esmero

      This is a horrible suggestion. No one should be beyond reproach, for any reason.

  • There’s a game theory problem here: if any one woman talks more, she’s talking more than average, and thus qualifies as a “bitch” (to accept as given the terms of the debate).

    I suggest that if a plurality of women all started talking more none of them would be vulnerable as the sole defector from the status quo ex ante.

    Mathematicians sometimes say “I’ve now reduced this to a solved problem”.

    I, on the other hand, will now say “I’ve now reduced this to an UNsolved problem” (i.e. coordination).

  • Eric_mcfadden41

    NWA has a pretty good social commentary on this issue.

  • richatd silliker

    …it just goes back to that hoary old double standard

    What’s the hoary new standard?

    • Cat

      “hoary old double standard”
      Isn’t that redundant?

  • Robin Hanson

    It would help if men knew that they can and do often look bad by talking too much. For example, my undergrad classes usually have one retired male student, who tries to answer most questions I pose to the class. Such men look “bitchy”, in being self-centeredly blind to the norm that question answering should be spread around the class. They don’t take the hint when I stop calling on them. I have to take them aside and tell them not to answer more than 25% of the time. 

    • TheAudientVoid

       If you don’t mind my asking, which is perceived as being more “bitchy”: the student who completely dominates class discussion, or the student who just sits there looking smug while the rest of the class struggles with something?

      • Thomas Bartscher

        Is this a trick question? One can also shut his mouth without looking smug.

      • faul_sname

        The one who dominates class discussion. No contest.

    • Such men look “bitchy”, in being self-centeredly blind to the norm that question answering should be spread around the class. They don’t take the hint when I stop calling on them.

      Essentially, you’re embarrassed by their self-centered behavior.

      Any theory about why they’re always retired? A retired person who goes to school as an undergraduate, one presumes, is really doing it “for the education”–I suppose, that means not for status. Being economics students, rational pursuit of their self-interest translates into trying to get as much professorial attention as possible.

      They’re rather unconcerned about looking good in front of their (younger) classmates. If the professor wants others to contribute, the retired student thinks, the prof  needn’t call on them. Why shouldn’t they signal their readiness to answer? They don’t decide who will be called.

      • Robin Hanson

        How do you figure that retired people can’t want status?

      •  For a retired person, status wouldn’t be a sensible motive for attending college. The diploma’s main status-related function–credentialing for employment–is absent in a retiree.

      • DanielHaggard

        Not sure why you have to assume Robin has to be embarrassed.  When one student answers everything – even when they get everything right – it makes it really hard to teach the rest of the class.  

        As a teacher, you don’t want to just hand all the students the answers because you want to work them through each component of the problem and get them to think.  But if one person is just answering everything immediately everyone else just shuts down and coasts.


        Not sure why you have to assume Robin has to be embarrassed.

        Because Robin retained the option not to call on students repeatedly. He was embarrassed (but not impaired as a teacher) when students raise their hands anyway.

  • Trimegistus

    I question the basic premise. Men and women are different. Why is it always considered a good thing to try to eliminate that difference?

    • Julia Wise

      Unless “having good ideas” and “talking about your ideas” are completely correlated, we’re missing out on good ideas.

  • Lawrence D’Anna

    Or maybe the whole “loud women are perceived as bitches” thing is just a politically inspired narrative with no connection to reality.  Maybe people actually can reliably distinguish between assertiveness and bitchiness.  Maybe it’s not even that hard.  Maybe the ‘researchers’ had a particular kind of result in mind and published the n = (100 psych undergraduates) ‘study’ that agreed with their preconceptions.

    • John Maxwell IV

      I think assertiveness and unpleasantness can be usefully distinguished between.  The bit at the end that Lindy writes goes a little beyond “assertive” in to “unpleasant” territory, IMO.

  • I agree with the general point that if Xes who do Y are more likely to be Z, then non-Z Xes who do Y will be perceived as being Z, and that changing this equilibrium is a tricky coordination problem, but the wording of this post seems optimized more for signaling contrarianism rather than communicating this insight to people who don’t already know it.

  • There might be another aspect at play when it comes to who speaks up when. I have a friend who is known to be very quiet in group settings, but when he does say something, it is solid gold. And if we are deciding on a restaurant, and he doesn’t have a preference between the two dominant candidates, he doesn’t weigh in. 
    I asked him about it, and he said that he figured it made more sense to make all of his statements high quality, given that there was a cost of speaking up, either political or by making himself look less clever (my words, but the general idea.) 

    So maybe women are similar, and are more adept in using the fewest words to get the greatest return in situations where they perceive a higher cost to speaking (having to shout over men or whatever.) Perhaps they are not worried about sounding like bitches, but content to let the others fight it out and only intervene when it matters to them?This probably doesn’t change the original thought much, but it might add another dimension, and considering this is likely a very complicated issue anyway that seems reasonable.

  • Your key premise needs some support:

      If all women know that assertiveness will be perceived as bitchiness then those who are going to be perceived as bitches anyway (due to their actual bitchiness) and those who don’t mind being seen as bitches (and therefore are more likely to be bitches), will be the ones with the lowest costs to speaking up.

    Try another negatively evaluated trait, say dishonesty. Is a liar more likely to prevaricate because everyone already knows he lies and he has nothing to lose? It seems to me the answer is rather equivocal. The liar has less reputation to lose, but the little that he does have has high utility: reputation, like other goods, is subject to diminishing utility. Thus, liars are often sensitive to the slightest insinuation that they are dishonest.

  • If this is about statistical discrimination, then it’s useful to know how to fight it.

    • Key quote: “If you really want to improve your group’s image, telling other groups to stop stereotyping won’t work. The stereotype is based on the underlying distribution of fact. It is far more realistic to turn your complaining inward, and pressure the bad apples in your group to stop pulling down the average.”

      • Ernie Piper

        I don’t know why I’m arguing. It’s fascinating in the same way disaster footage is. My ten-year-old brother has a series of books entitled “Disaster Log of [x],” where x=any large vehicle which would make a huge explosion, such as a train or boat. This comment thread, and by extension, this article, are those very trains/boats crashing upon the shores of an uncaring destiny, and I find myself helplessly enthralled by the meaningless drama of it all. 


        I’ll try something though, bear with me. Let’s imagine this is 1964.

      • Esmero

        Get over yourself.

  • Sir you offend me greatly. You seem, by your remarks, to imply that there might be some apparent difference between the genders which could in some small way cause them to behave or speak in manners different than one another. I can firmly assure you that any mistakenly perceived mental or physical differences are in no way biological or natural to our species, but rather have been forced to exist by a biased and misguided society. In fact this is the largest conspiracy known to man as every society as yet discovered has participated in this unfounded perception of difference. Even those cultures completely isolated and supposedly unaware of the rest of humanity have given themselves away by participating in the world wide farce.
    As proof of my position I point out that if the differences between the genders were natural they would be apparent from birth. We would see young boys and girls choosing different toys and games based on gender preference. And such a difference would be measurable scientifically. We might, for example, see that boys do better in certain types of studies while girls do better in others.
    I say again that men and women are in every way identical, as modern society wishes it to be. Now I must go as for some reason I am having trouble teaching my daughter to pee her name in the snow.

    • Brad

      Why do you presume the OP is a sir?

  • rationalist

    Rationality and feminism will mix *REALLY* well, Katja.


  • I think the key consideration here is simply whether assertiveness outweighs the social costs associated with it. I think it’s like the Prisoners’ Dilemma. 

  • richatd silliker

    This is not a model.

    No one is a bitch.  What is being talked about here is behaviour.

    Want to motivate women to speak? 

    First thing you do is explain to everyone involved that they are responsible for their own behaviours.  Behaviour includes that which comes out of your mouth.

    Second thing you do is not let anyone dictate to you how to behave.  That way you do not have to behave like a bitch.

  • Ernie Piper

    I’m no genius, but the problem lindy’s pointing out has nothing to do with identifying which women are bitchy, or even with getting non-bitches to talk. She’s saying it’s dumb that women have to deal with being bitchy before they can even fucking talk. So. It’s cool that all you guys continue to talk about whether or not she’s a bitch, because that’s kind of her point. WIN

  • Guest

    Conflict avoidance.

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  • I question Jezebel’s assertion that women are perceived as being “bitchy” or pushy if they speak up. I’ve never seen any evidence of that myself. In fact, my recent experience has been just the opposite: our company recently hired a female intern for a few months, and when she spoke up in meetings to provide her perspective, my own reaction was to view her as more knowledgeable and experienced than I had previously assumed, and I saw nothing but positive and attentive reactions from others as well.

    Perhaps this is a case of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go into a meeting with a chip on your shoulder and the expectation that you will meet with negative reactions if you speak up, this is likely to come through in your body language, tone of voice, etc., producing the very negative reaction that was expected. (I myself have had this kind of experience in other contexts, of having a social interaction go badly largely because I went into it expecting opposition and conflict.)

  • To follow up on my previous comment, one way NOT to motivate women to speak up is to claim that women who do speak up are perceived as bitchy and pushy.

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  • Romeo Stevens

    I think it is possible that remaining quiet creates the stereotype in the first place.  Only speaking up when something really bothers you means everyone else is using the fundamental attribution error and assuming you like to complain.

  • Wandergirl881

    Replace ‘women’ with ‘men’ and ‘bitch’ with ‘asshole.’