I just came upon a great little app/website Are Men Talking Too Much? that is a simple and humorous counter that allows tracking the gender of the person speaking in a meeting. I like this because I am prone to talk too much, and over the years, through great effort, have done some work to pay more and more attention regarding proper etiquette in dealing with others. I’ve enjoyed this transformation, and have learned much by deepening my listening skills and hearing important information that might not have been shared had I unconsciously dominated the conversation.
At the same time, in this international conversation on enhancing freedom of speech for all, it is important not to essentialize certain qualities like domination to a specific sex. A person belonging to any group can display laudable or abhorrent behavior. People of a given gender or sex, or culture, etc., are not a monolith. This is diversity 101.
Of course, men tend to have higher acculturated propensities for not picking up on social cues and dominating (because they have been able to get away with it, and even sometimes valorized for doing so). So, it’s important to correct these imbalances.
The simple act of timing who speaks, and for how long, can lay bare some otherwise tangled emotional justifications around a problem that, at its root, in some ways can be fixed through less complicated means than some might admit. It’s this elegance, of sharing time, giving and taking, and keeping an eye out for fairness and justice which is ever-so-relevant and sorely needed in this welcome #metoo era.