Samples Gender Roles Communication Style

Communication Style

604 words 3 page(s)

Professor Maureen Kenny, for a talk at the City Club of Cleveland in downtown Cleveland, discussed the differences between male and female communication styles in the law profession as it is the best place, as she claims, “to hold a mirror up” to the realities of differences in perception. She begins the talk by creating a courtroom scenario for context and discusses the “double bind” regarding how female attorneys are perceived: “helpless” or “overbearing,” either being too shy or too aggressive, which can alienate a judge. Men on the other hand are considered more credible and the aggressive trait for which female attorneys are judged, are praised in men. Women are also treated less professionally as a whole rather than men.

Kenny’s reasoning for this, she posits, can be attributed to socialization in childhood. The innate or learned behaviors in boys and girls as children is already distinct. Young girls tend to play in groups that are meritocratic in nature; boys play in larger groups that include a hierarchy and speak in terms of dominance with respect to how they play. Young girls congregate in good fun and no one is better than the other; for boys, there are winners and losers. These standards go on to shape their lives especially in the professional arena. For men and boys, it allows for them to be more independent and get what they want out of a situation.

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For women, the socialization of them during childhood has indelible effects on adult communication styles. Women are more loaf in negotiations and arguments bother them more than their male counterparts. They speak with modifiers and give social cues to encourage interaction. Women tend to find negotiation hassling and distasteful as well, says Kenny. There is a huge difference in men and women here; men negotiate two to three more times more than women do. Women, a study found, are more afraid of making mistakes when negotiating and find it uncomfortable. Women want to be perceived as nice to work with and keep their head down so as to always be congenial and not have to deal with the adversity of negotiation, a personal burden.

The biggest difference that there appears to be between the communication styles of men and women is in fact that socialization during childhood. Those imbalances for adult men and women that stem from gender roles and expectations as boys and girls can and must be addressed. As women and girls prefer to be more sociable, friendly and congenial, this creates disadvantages for them in the workplace as it keeps them from speaking out in the workplace and it can be perceived, especially by their male counterparts, that they are less wanting for what they should ask for and in turn, will not receive what they think they deserve. Women should be encouraged to not speak with modifiers or qualifiers and being assertive in conversations without dominating it. Usually women are playing in an unfortunately male-dominated field and have to learn how to navigate a space in which they are already considered to be lesser, in whatever manner or characteristic.

It is no question that men and women are innately different, but this does not have to be a bad thing. No matter which arena of professional career that men and women are in, women are already perceived as less than men and this is through no fault of their own. For this reason though, women are tasked with breaking those barriers as a result of gender roles and socialization. This is not an easy task by any means, but it can be done.

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