Excuse Me, But…

A woman working in the tech world recently conducted a personal study on interrupters in the workplace, and then chronicled her findings on Slate.

In summary:

  • The more people in the conversation, the more interruptions there were.
  • The higher someone was up the food chain, the more likely they were to interrupt.

Things got a bit more interesting looking at males vs. females, but were not surprising:

  • Men interrupted twice as frequently as women.
  • Men were three times more likely to interrupt a woman than a man who was previously speaking.  Conversely, women were more likely to interrupt another woman, and almost never interrupt a man.

The kicker:

  • The biggest interrupters of all were women–the ones in the most senior positions.
  • These senior women interrupted without regard for the gender or position of the interruptee–they interrupted almost everyone.
  • All senior women in the study scored very high on the interrupter scale.  Literally, “There are no senior women who aren’t interrupting their male colleagues.”

While the study was obviously a single and limited measure, Lady In Red can confirm the findings across industries based on her own anecdotal evidence and experience over the years.

What if you are a female not in a senior position, but who aspires to be?  Do female interrupters get promoted, or is it only once promoted that one can interrupt with impunity?  Further study is needed, but intuition leans things toward the former.  It seems likely women do not advance without knowing how to interrupt, and how to interrupt well.

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