As women, we have to speak up otherwise others will keep speaking without us. A recent study published in the American Political Science Review shows that women are less likely to speak up in mixed gender groups that operate on a majority rule basis. We can see this in our own lives. Through robotics We’ve seen that even though we think we’re about to say something silly, if we don’t speak up, we will miss out on the conversation and discussion entirely. Perhaps this is the the largest value FIRST has instilled in us--nobody knows what we are thinking unless we say it outloud.
In addition to speaking up, women need to speak out by owning their space and negotiating from it. Studies have shown women are just as good--if not better--than men at negotiating. But, here’s the big catch, only when negotiating on behalf of others. When negotiating for themselves, women are significantly worse than men.
It is great to talk about speaking up and out, but theory can lead to analysis paralysis and no real results. Here are our four practical tips to help you speak up and out:
- Practice makes perfect! Get a trusted friend and talk about your strengths, then switch. Help each other by showing things they left out.
- Gremlins. Think about what is keeping you from speaking up (we call these gremlins), then figure out how to overcome them. For example, a gremlin for asking a question could be “I’m afraid I’ll look dumb!” and the way to overcome it would be to think “everyone else is probably thinking the same thing and are just too scared to ask!”
- Amplify! Again, get a friend and tell her one of your strengths, then have her “amplify” it then switch. Then, think how you can amplify your own strengths when talking with others.
- One Question. Challenge yourself to ask one question you consider silly the next time you are in a group environment.
This blog was written by Sarah, Stephanie, and Kassie from FRC 3132, The Thunder Down Under. If you are interested in writing a blog, sign up on the schedule.