Gender-based communication stereotypes debunked

Gender-based communication stereotypes debunked

New research explains how men and women display assertiveness in speech patterns.
source-image
Sep 24, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
That the men and women of your practice communicate with differing levels of authority and certainty is a foregone conclusion, right? Everyone knows that men speak with a direct confidence while women tend to be more tentative, don't they? As a new University of California, Davis study shows, in reality, genders' communication styles are not so easily stereotyped.

UC Davis assistant professor Nicholas Palomares debunked this communication myth with an experiment based in e-mail correspondence. He found that assertiveness had more to do with the perceived gender-specificity of a topic and to whom the message was supposedly being communicated than with the gender of the person initiating the message. For example, males attempting to write instructions for a female gender-stereotyped activity, like purchasing makeup, used more "hedging" language ("maybe," "sort of," "probably") when they thought the message was intended for a woman. Conversely, women thinking they were writing to men about typically masculine topics, such as changing a tire, also took a more tentative approach. Topics deemed to be gender-neutral elicited no tentativeness no matter the gender of the recipient.

Palomares concluded that only when there is a supposed conflict between one's gender and the assumed gender of a subject does a language of hesitance appear. Even then, it develops equally in men and women.

If in a meetingor in the break roomyou find yourself hedging or feeling unsure about committing to what you're saying, it may be time to reexamine perceptions of the discussion at hand. Just because your gender is theoretically not authoritative on a subject doesn't mean you can't be.

Hot topics on dvm360

Reality TV and the veterinarian: Discussing mainstream dog training advice with clients

Your clients may be getting behavior advice from cable TV. Get your opinion in the mix.

Vetcetera: The complex topic of canine fear-related aggression

A guided tour of resources for addressing this popular and complicated subject, featuring advice from Dr. John Ciribassi.

Blog: Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law

Flip in U.S. Senate's majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

The war between shelters, veterinarians needs to end

Despite practitioners’ legitimate gripes, they’re hurting themselves.

7 steps to a better relationship between veterinarians and rescue groups

A DVM in the city shares his advice to veterinary practices for working with rescues.