How to get respected at meetings as a woman

During business meetings, many women experience a lack of respect. They might be taken less seriously than their male colleagues with the same qualifications and often experience being talked over or belittled. Have you ever had such an experience?

A study by Barbara and Gene Eakins for which they recorded seven university faculty meetings showed that with one exception men did not speak up more often, they also talked for longer than women. The shortest comment by a male participant was still longer than the shortest comment by a female participant! Even though there are many studies that show a similar behaviour there is still the misogynistic stereotype that women “just talk too much”.

Especially in formal meetings, it is important for women to participate in conversations and stand up for their opinion to make their ideas, insights, and perspectives heard. There are a few techniques that can help you to make your voice heard and raise awareness for the fact that other colleagues might behave disrespectfully towards you.

Firstly, if you want to add a point to a discussion try to catch a break and politely state “I have something to add”. Speak with a clear and loud voice, so they cannot talk over you, and try to avoid sentence starters like “Can I just…” or “If I may …” since they can make you seem insecure.

Also, be not afraid to directly point out if someone interrupts you. Calmly saying sentences like “I am speaking right now, please let me finish”, can raise awareness for the issue. If there is a certain co-worker that tends to talk over you more often than others, maybe search for a private conversation and politely point out his behaviour.

Online, there is a lot of material suggesting sentences like those and practicing them in your everyday life can help you to become more comfortable saying them and demand the space you deserve. Do not accept having to stand back just because you are female.

What are your tips and thoughts on dealing with business meetings as a woman?

Angelina Berndt


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