Imagine you’re pitching an idea, only to be cut off by someone else, who then essentially pitches the same idea — and gets all the credit for it.
For many women, this isn’t such a farfetched scenario. In fact, it’s such a ubiquitous occurrence that there are even some terms to go along with it: “Manterrupting” (when a man unnecessarily interrupts a woman) and “Bropropriating” (when a man takes credit for a woman’s idea), according to the Times.
As Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant write in their New York Times oped “Speaking While Female,” women are frequently cowed into staying quiet at work because they fear either being ignored or judged harshly when they speak up for themselves.
It happens in industries across the board, from entertainment to politics.
Sandberg and Grant point to a study by Yale psychologist Victoria L. Brescoll, which found that more senior male senators spoke more on the Senate floor than their junior colleagues, while female senators spoke about the same amount regardless of tenure or leadership positions.
But a handful of White House staffers may have found a way to help more women be heard.
As female staffers recently told The Washington Post, during President Obama’s first term, men were the majority around the Oval Office, and women were often excluded from important meetings and ignored when they were present.
To counter this, they adopted a strategy they called “amplification.” The Washington Post explains:
“When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognise the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”
“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it,” an anonymous female staffer told the Washington Post. “It was an everyday thing.”
The former aide said that Obama took notice and began calling on women and junior aides more often.
“Manterrupting” isn’t exclusive to politics, and leaders and coworkers everywhere can take note from Obama and his staffers and try implementing the “amplication” strategy in their next meeting.