Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m disturbed by a new wave of thinking in business circles that accepts a pack of troubling conclusions about the “speaking-up” styles of men vs. women in the workplace. The gist of it is that men who speak up frequently in office meetings are rewarded for their ideas more than women are for offering the same or equally good ideas.

Supporting all this is the notion that men are good at projecting confidence even when (especially when) they don’t know anything, whereas women are merely competent in all the areas that matter most. But in spite of their abilities, the women tend to remain quiet in meetings because they’re tired of having supremely confident men walk all over them and steal their ideas.

Dr. Babooner, I’m a man who has worked collaboratively with women throughout my career so I can honestly say it sounds like nonsense to me. I’ve always been supportive of my female colleagues. I remember about ten years ago I was in a meeting to talk about a problem getting the product out of our glass fruit warehouse when Heather suggested we speed up the conveyor belts by 1/5th of a mile per hour. She thought a small adjustment like that would reverberate all through the system and marginally improve our delivery times.

I got so excited by her good idea I jumped in before she was even done talking and said we should increase speeds by 5 miles per hour to make the product fly off our shelves! And because I so quickly and enthusiastically endorsed and improved the concept, they put me in charge of the project!

But I never missed an opportunity to let people know it was HER idea, not mine!

Sadly, Heather left the company the following year after refusing to take responsibility for all the product breakage we were seeing in the warehouse. I think that’s the real problem with women in the corporate workplace – they aren’t willing to accept the consequences of their high level decisions.

Dr. Babooner, your picture makes it look like you’re a woman so you’re probably not going to agree with me, but I’m absolutely certain I’ve got this one right. But how can I overcome this new prevailing assumption that my confidence is just testosterone-induced blustering?

With Supreme Assurance,
Mr. Positive

I told Mr. P that a smart office player always works WITH prevailing assumptions, not against them. Since the latest scholarship has already concluded his approach is complete BS, he should wait for a female co-worker to point it out and then endorse her criticism with all the manly force he uses for his other positions. By selling his colleagues on the effectiveness of his false certainty, he can still dominate the decision making.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

29 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

  1. Morning all. Wish I could say I was just up early in order to be first, but I’m in another time zone. It’s almost noon here!

    What I can’t believe is that there are folks out in the business world who are just NOW noticing the difference between the communications styles of men and women in meetings. Good grief!

    I just keep my head down in meetings these days and my boss resigned herself years ago to the fact that I also doodle.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Sherillee.

      My reaction was, in other news, water is wet.

      I’d be interested in a study about what happens in meetings that are all or primarily women.

      This is the majority of my work experience and the dynamic is odd.

      I’d say meetings should be avoided if at all possible. Near as I can tell, they tend to be presentations by TPTB with a Q&A so it can be said the staff had been “reached out to”.

      The real innovation comes during off the record conversations.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. What Mr. P missed in his missive is the other part of this dynamic – women who do speak up are not only not rewarded at the same rates as men for their ideas, they are often dinged on reviews or rated poorly. So a guy can speak up and not only will he be heard, but he will be rewarded. A woman can speak up about the same thing in the same way and will be, at best, ignored or viewed neutrally, or more more often, be viewed in a bad light for the same behavior (even by other women). I work with better-than-average folks when it comes to this dynamic, but I still see it – and I have been known to call people on it. My prior manager thanked me for signaling (sometimes quite baldly or vocally) when he had cut someone off. Not always going to win me more friends, or get me a positive review, but so be it.

    Mr. P if you want to change the dynamic, shut up and listen. If you see or hear another guy stepping in mid-sentence when a woman is talking, tell him that Ms. T was talking, and he should wait until she is done. If you really want to go for it, start asking women what they think in meetings. It helps change bad behavior – and you get the benefit of being seen as a true leader.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Rise and Speak Up Baboons!

    Oh My, Mr. P. Do I even know what to say? Would you listen if I did?
    The 3 responses above say it all. The engineering field is trying to figure out why they cannot keep women. I think the answers reside in this post. If they read it. If they get it. Which I don’t thi…..oops. Cut off.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. the politics in the office are laughable. if they werent so real it would make a good comedy. i have gotten to the point where i know that working with someone means dealing with all the stuff they bring to the realtionship. ladies simply bring better stuff and are better to deal with than men. men are quite confident that is true but hen pointing out they are wrong doesnt seem to slow them down this seems to be a problem. women seem to understand the equations men the bottom lines without consideration for the process. 5 mph vs 1/5 mph is the story in a nutshell.


  5. All I can say is that I, personally, try to work evenly and fairly with everyone. Beyond that, I should probably not say too much because if I start workplace-bashing I may not be able to stop and I could get fired.


  6. Good morning. Any kind of meeting can lead to problems: men and women; all men; and, I am guessing, all women. In a meeting my best advice for everyone is to be very cautious about anything you say and stay out of the middle of any situation if possible. As you might guess, I have recently been involved in a meeting that went wrong and both the men and the women turned it in that direction, with a woman taking the lead in creating a bad situation. However, I think it is usually men who create the problems that occur during meetings.


  7. I could right a few hundred pages on bad meetings, Yet meetings are necessary. Would explain but I have been having very bad meetings lately with pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My naive brain has never observed women’s ideas being squashed by men. I’ve worked in a predominantly male environment since 1993. I may not have noticed it because, as a mostly-introvert, I am not popping out ideas in meetings. No popping, no squashing.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I wonder if the dynamics change if the bosses are female? I somehow think they don’t. I despise meetings and work in a pretty female dominated business culture and I find that ideas and comments aren’t really very welcome.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In my experience, women in middle management in charge of female majority departments are placed there by men who have found them to be a safe pair of hands. They do not want the boat to rock. Speaking up is considered not nice.

      Women who captain their own ships are another matter. Ain’t that right, girls?

      I’m working with both situations right now and prefer the latter.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been a feminist since before the word was in general usage, although I’m sure I have occasionally been a boorish male and talked when I should have been listening.

    When we had the first BBC meeting I was pushing for a structure that would encourage women to speak up and not get trampled by men. Ha! I quickly learned that Baboon women were quite capable of holding their own in discussions. The arrangements I was favoring were not needed.

    My job as an editor of a sportsmen’s magazine gave me a unique chance to change the role of women in outdoor recreation. Women never appeared in magazines like mine in those days. I was more of a feminist than most women on that topic, for I passionately believed that women should be encouraged to hunt and fish. My little magazine, for all of its failings, was quite progressive in that way.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. l’ve managed to stay out of corporate America. l don’t understand office politics at all therefore tend to walk straight into saying the wrong thing. One example was there was a terrible male manager. Night after night, the staff around me complained and lambast him. One night l noticed he wasn’t there and asked why. He’d been fired and upon hearing this, l expressed relief that we wouldn’t have to tolerate him anymore. You’ve have thought that l’d crashed into a wall. People were outraged by my response to hearing that he’d been fired.

    Apparently, there’s a PC rule that you can only deride someone while he’s still employed and l’d broken the golden rule that if he’s fired you should immediately speak well of him – or, at the very least, express sorrow that he’s gone. Office politics and l are like sour and sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well…I have observed some female meeting attendees who have a whole lot to say without really having anything to say. I wish I could aver that the males of the species have the market cornered on being overbearing and self-important. Not really so. The stereotype most certainly has a dollop of truth to it, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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