University Study Finds That Women Talk Less Than Men in a Group Decision-Making Process

A study by researchers at Princeton University and Brigham Young University finds that women in group decision-making situation speak less than men. The results showed that in group situations, the amount of time that women were speaking was less than 75 percent of the time that their proportion of the group would indicate. In the experiment, subjects were placed in groups of at least five people and given the task of assigning the allocation of money from a joint venture.

The researchers also found that when the group was instructed to come to a unanimous decision on a given task, the gender inequality in speaking time during group discussions disappeared.

Tali Mendelberg, a professor of politics at Princeton University, and a coauthor of the study, states, ““In school boards, governing boards of organizations and firms, and legislative committees, women are often a minority of members and the group uses majority rule to make its decisions. These settings will produce a dramatic inequality in women’s floor time and in many other ways. Women are less likely to be viewed and to view themselves as influential in the group and to feel that their ‘voice is heard.’”

Professor Mendelberg, is the author of The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality (Princeton University Press, 2001). She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.

The paper, coauthored by Chris Karpowitz, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, was published in the American Political Science Review.

“Women have something unique and important to add to the group, and that’s being lost at least under some circumstances,” said Professor Karpowitz.

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