Differences in Gender Communication

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This paper attempts to review for the reader a selection of literature that study and analyze the differences that exist between men and women and the manner in which they communicate. Not only do these pieces of literature fall into different categories and specialties, they also deliver varied opinions and results as to what causes the differences discussed. By becoming familiar with the many aspects of gender communication differences, the responsible worker or manager can synthesize those findings into a methodology that enhances work place communication.

The literature available on gender communication differences, when analyzed, display themes of discussion. They are listed below in order of importance, followed by the different trends that fall under each theme: •Theme: Verbal Differences

Observable Behaviors
Mixed-Gender Supervisors and Subordinates
Mixed-Gender Coworkers
Mixed-Gender Interview Sessions
Theme: Non-Verbal Differences
Body Language
Sexual Harassment
Theme: Stereotypes
Development and Perpetuation
Awareness and Avoidance
Theme: Counter-Effects
Theme: Computer-Mediated Communication
Theme: Implications for Libraries
The following pages will analyze these themes and their trends in more detail.

Verbal Differences
Investigations into the differences between men and women and the ways in which they communicate span many areas of inquiry, including psychology, sociology, and business literature. The primary focus of all these fields is on the verbal differences between genders. As most articles point out, both genders use the same language...where then does the difference in use come about? The most basic studies of gender communication differences, such as those by Rosner, Cangemi, and Chambers, list several findings they claim to be strictly observable behaviors. For example, Rosner states that men speak to convey facts, not details, and utilize language as a means of independence; that is to say, they speak to maintain or demonstrate deservedness of authority (2001). This same author describes the speech patterns of women as being driven toward detail and a sense of developing relationships, rather than sustaining independence. According to Rosner, males and females use language to control the level of intimacy (2001). Both Cangemi and Chambers mark the use of qualifying statements by females, such as “Don’t you think?” as an attempt to engender a non-hostile atmosphere, where as men do the exact opposite in an attempt to spur confrontation and competition (Cangemi, 2001)(Chambers, 2003). These authors state language is used as a representation of social power; those who have or want social power (which tend to be men) use language to either demonstrate dominance or to gain it, while those who do not have social power (usually women) use it to maintain peaceful and harmonious relations with those in charge. (Cangemi, 2001)(Chambers, 2003). Studies of workplace communication reveal many of these same findings. Coates portrays how the tendency of women to talk more when giving orders to male subordinates creates in the male a distance that the woman then interprets as resentment (2004). Coates also describes how the scarcity of words and emotion when a male supervisor gives orders to a female employee may engender in the woman a desire to strengthen their relationship via words. This creates for the male an illusion of inattention on the part of the woman (2004). Most of these authors point out that such differences in perspective may impede either gender’s progress up the company ladder. Yet another trend in the literature studying verbal communication differences in the workplace focuses on mixed-gender coworkers with equal levels of authority. Although most literature in this field addresses the gender communication problems encountered between manager and subordinate, Holmes brings up the presence of gender...
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