Women Must Persist to Be Heard: What Will Work
The spectacle of Senator Elizabeth Warren being silenced by a man in a male-dominated organization—in this case on the floor of the US Senate—was very familiar to many women. And then, as is typical, four men stood up and read aloud the same letter she had been reading—they were not silenced.
Susan Chiara of the New York Times notes that “being interrupted or ignored, and being one of the few women in the room, can be both inhibiting and enraging.” Gail Collins of the New York Times quotes Senator Kirsten Killebrand, who believes that, while Senator Mitch McConnell says he silenced Warren because “she persisted,” he targeted Warren because she has been effective, and Republicans feel threatened by her. Their attempt to silence her has backfired, and both her credibility and the outrage women feel about her treatment have skyrocketed. We can now see, perhaps more clearly than ever, that we must persist to get our voices heard.
Chiara notes that talking over women and shutting them down happens in most professions and “is a bi-partisan exercise.” She explains that women in the Obama White House “banded together to work on ‘amplification,’ taking care in meetings to repeat other women’s points and give women credit for ideas they had first raised.”
I have written in previous articles about the price women pay when they do persist and are seen as too aggressive. I have also written about why women’s voices are needed and what leaders can do to help women get their voices heard.
It’s not easy to persist, but we must in order to be heard. Let’s persist and support each other in the process in the way the women in Obama’s White House were able to do. Our contributions are important.
What has worked for you?