I was talking with a friend the other day about a meeting she led at her company recently. Unfortunately, though, the meeting didn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped. Several of her co-workers (all men) interrupted her for the entirety of the meeting.
Sound familiar? Yep, it does for me too (even if I don’t lead meetings… yet!).
However, one of her male co-workers stepped in to help. Each time she wasn’t being heard, he interrupted and said, “Hey, I wanted to hear what she was saying.”
This tactic is one the women who worked in the Obama administration used to make sure women’s voices were being heard. It’s called amplification, and it can be a huge help for women at work.
Here’s how it works: When a woman or non-binary person is speaking up at the office, make sure their voice is being heard. Start by listening, of course. That part isn’t difficult.
What makes amplification a bit more difficult is what comes next.
If that person speaking isn’t being heard, you need to speak up. Say, “I want to echo what [their name] just said.” Repeat what they said while also giving them credit for the work they’ve already done.
Other ways you can say that include “Like Ellen said…” or “Sarah suggested that…” or “As Lucy pointed out earlier…”
The need is to have another woman credit the originator of the idea. Men typically reiterate these ideas, consciously or not, and don't credit the originator. They take it as their own and are more likely to be credited with that idea.
In some workplaces, it makes sense discuss this practice with others. It can be extra helpful to have one or two allies in a meeting with you who you know will make your voice heard.
Speaking up, especially over other people, may feel weird at first. As you start doing it, however, you’ll find that it becomes easier. And hey! Maybe one day you’ll be the one who needs to be reminded not to interrupt.
- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #27