Time Magazine recently published an article entitled How Not to Be “Manterrupted” in Meetings. The piece, written Jessica Bennet (an “Executive editor” of Tumblr) attempts to introduce two new words into our lexicon. You can see how these words are defined by looking at the picture below:
There’s a lot that could be said about this article. It’s really dumb. But I’m going to zero in on one aspect of it that I find particularly amusing. In the piece Bennet writes “The data follows a long line of research showing that when it comes to the workplace, women speak less, are interrupted more, and have their ideas more harshly scrutinized.” Given the definition of “Manterrupt,” the most important evidence will be the data that shows that men interrupt women more than men and for unnecessary reasons. When I opened the sources Bennet cites my expectations were low: I thought that Bennet would link to studies showing that men interrupt women more than women interrupt women but that this evidence wouldn’t come close to showing that such interruptions were unnecessary. I was wrong.
Bennet provides two links, but they each cite the same study that measures how often men and women interrupt each-other. The New Republic article that Bennet links reported the following results frome this study out of Washington University “Over the course of each three-minute conversation, women, on average, interrupted men just once, but interrupted other women 2.8 times. Men interrupted their male conversation partner twice, on average, and interrupted the woman 2.6 times.”
(Yes, she does link to a list of seven studies but this is the only one of them that directly addresses this question.)
This study can’t be taken very seriously: the sample size was 40. But setting that aside, there are three things of note here:
- Men interrupt men less than women interrupt women.
- Both sexes interrupt women more than men.
- Women interrupt women more than men interrupt women.
Since both sexes interrupt women more than men, it seems safe to say that women speak in ways that cause people to interrupt them more often than men do. I don’t know what exactly it is that women do: they might trail off more often than men, or they could be more boring, or they could just state things that are factually wrong more often than men do. There might also be a more innocuous explanation. But the idea that women are systematically interrupted specifically by men, for fair or unfair reasons, is clearly contradicted by this study.
And there you have it: Bennet gives us two links to a single study with a shitty sample size that completely contradicts the basis for her entire article. I hope you found that as funny as I did.