7. Pay attention to women’s voices

Commit to paying attention when women speak during meetings and conversations. Encourage women to offer their ideas and opinions at meetings you attend.

  • Keep a ‘talked over tally’. During meetings or conversations, note the number of times you witness men interrupting or talking over women. This handy tool can help. At the end of the Challenge, share your tally and observations with friends, family or colleagues.
  • Take the approach of women staffers of the Obama administration to ‘amplify’ women’s voices whenever possible.
  • During conversations, be aware of the types of interruptions made by men (and women). Joanna Richards’ recent study of the Australian Senate found that women actually interrupted more times than men. But their interruptions were usually defending or positively supporting another female speaker, or a less powerful speaker. Almost 75 per cent of the male interrupters were trying to take power or take the floor.

How does it help?

Silencing, ignoring or minimising women’s voices is part of sexism and gender inequality. Men are socialised to be decision-makers and voices of authority. Women are socialised to be submissive listeners and collaborators.

Experts in preventing male violence against women propose that ‘listening to women … is an alternative to using power and control tactics to silence them. Listening is thus a path toward justice’.

Keep going!

Keep supporting and paying attention to women’s voices:

  • Consider your bookshelf or university reading list. Are women well represented? If not, ask for more women authors in course materials. Include more women’s voices in your own reading.
  • Acknowledge women’s contributions and ideas.
  • Suggest a ‘no interruptions policy’ in meetings at your workplace or during classes.
  • Call it out when women are interrupted in front of you.
  • Get ideas to support women’s participation in decision-making and leadership at work.

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.