Women Looking to Get Ahead at Work Should Shut Up, While Men Who Want to Succeed Should Keep Talking

Offer autonomy to workers
Psychologist Maynard Brusman recommends employers to encourage workers to perform tasks in their own way. Brusman believes workers are more likely to perform better, engage more and be more committed if what they do comes from the core of who they are. Flickr/Victor1558

Researchers found that female employees who want to succeed in the workplace should keep their mouths shut because women who talk too much in the office are perceived to be less competent than quieter women.

However the opposite applies to men, in fact the more frequently male employees voice their opinions in the office the better they are seen at doing their jobs.

Researchers at the Yale School of Management explain that chatty women are often seen as a nag who is “domineering and presumptuous” when they talk too much, and that women looking to get ahead should hold their tongue, especially in front of men.

Researchers reporting in the Administrative Science Quarterly asked 156 participants to read a story about a fictional chief executive who was described either as being a talkative man, quiet man, talkative woman or quiet woman. Afterwards, participants had to rate how competent they thought each one of the four chief executives were on a seven point scale.

Researchers measured talkativeness by how often the executive voiced their opinion in the articles.

On average, talkative men were given a competency rating of 5.64, whereas quiet men were given a rating of 5.11.

However, talkative women were rated 4.83 on the competency scale compared to 5.62 if they were quiet. 

In another experiment where participants were asked about their opinions on how the gender of U.S. Senators affected what they thought of them when they spoke, researchers found a “strong positive relationship” between power and talking time for the male senators but not for female senators. 

Researchers conclude that a woman chief executive is seen as significantly less suitable for leadership roles compared to a man who talks for the same amount of time.

When men talk a lot and have power, people want to reward them either by hiring them, voting for them, or just giving them more power and responsibility at work.

“When men talk a lot and they have power, people want to reward them either by hiring them, voting for them, or just giving them more power and responsibility at work,” lead researcher Victoria Brescoll, a management professor, said in a statement.

“But when women do it, they are seen as being too domineering, too presumptuous. Women perceive this, and that’s why they temper how much they talk,” Brescoll said.

"What's ironic is that good leaders tend to also be good listeners. So harshly judging female leaders for talking 'too much' could have negative consequences not just for individual women, but also for organizations," Brescoll noted.

Join the Discussion