How assertive language affects workplace gender gap

p 1 lladies read this study finds which words avoid workplace gender discrimination

What underpins the workplace gender gap? It could be simply phrases. That is the discovering of a new study in Management Science out of Washington State College, during which researchers efficiently made a workplace gender gap disappear by way of language decisions.

The statements and recommendation of girls are generally much less believed than these of males. Researchers aimed to pinpoint why in a examine that requested 1,000 folks to play a difficult on-line recreation whereas listening to the sport recommendation of women and men—a few of whom used more-assertive language and a few of whom used less-assertive language.

The examine discovered that when ladies employed assertive language, their recommendation was simply as prone to be adopted as the lads’s recommendation, and the gender gap disappeared. Gamers had been extra prone to take the assertive recommendation from each women and men.


Probably the most profitable recommendation givers didn’t simply state their recommendation, however couched it in almost-self-aggrandizing language that bluntly reminded listeners of their expertise and experience. Audio system repeatedly reminded listeners that:

  • the speaker is an professional
  • the speaker is bound that her recommendation is one of the best recommendation
  • the speaker’s skills and expertise are glorious
  • the speaker is trusted by others
  • the speaker’s recommendation is an asset

In different phrases, the assertive talkers created auditory billboards for his or her competence, and didn’t specific any ambivalence or doubt. Listed below are examples of profitable and not-successful deliveries of recommendation:

Much less assertive: “I’m not positive how good a frontrunner I can be.”
Very assertive: “Should you hearken to my recommendation, I can guarantee you that my expertise and experiences will aid you carry out effectively on this recreation.”

Much less assertive: “I’m not positive whether or not it’s a sensible choice.””
Very assertive: “I’m satisfied that it’s the most suitable option.”

Much less assertive: “You most likely have higher problem-solving expertise than I do, however here’s what I’m pondering.”
Very assertive: “I’ve extraordinarily sturdy downside fixing expertise and my recommendation may be an asset to you.”

Much less assertive: “I’m not positive, however it may assist.”
Very assertive: “My strengths embody distinctive analytical pondering. You could do ___.”

Much less assertive: “I don’t know, however taking part in 4 looks as if it’s working.”
Very assertive: “I’ve earned the belief of my friends prior to now, and I strongly encourage you to play 4.”


Much less assertive: “I may be lacking one thing in selecting play 4.”
Very assertive: “I’ve discovered easy methods to make good choices on this experiment. Belief me, 4 is one of the best play.”

Much less assertive: “I don’t know if that is useful, however my thought is that possibly you may make the pc suppose that you’re Sort B by taking part in 4.”
Very assertive: “I gravitate naturally to instruction and am eager that will help you. The sensible transfer is play 4.”

This examine and others have discovered that ladies are unlikely to make use of such assertive language except straight instructed to take action, whereas males will use it with out prompting.

Earlier than you head off into the sundown with a extra aggressive lexicon, contemplate that this examine didn’t consider the reputational results of utilizing such language, which the researchers name “assertive low-cost discuss.” Does everybody hate assertive low-cost talkers? Or is everybody simply unduly persuaded by them? Keep tuned for future analysis.