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

Follow dvm360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

For quick updates and to touch base with the editors of dvm360, Veterinary Economics, Veterinary Medicine, and Firstline, and check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Sell veterinary clients on your service

But you don't have to have butler-style service to win new clients and keep existing clients happy.

Why veterinarians should be more like a Louisiana shoeshiner

If my veterinary clients feel half as good as I did after visiting the 'Michael Jordan of shoeshines,' I'll be thrilled.

Texts from your veterinary clinic cat

If your clinic cat had a cell phone and opposable thumbs, what would he or she text you?

Learning goodbye: Veterinarians fill a void by focusing on end of life care

Veterinarians dedicating their careers to hospice and euthansia medicine may be pioneering the profession's next specialty—at clients' request.