Gender Gap in Communication

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Why is there a gender difference in communication? Well the reason is that those differences are due to the differences between men and women of course, but that they are also very dependent on the environment into which the conversation takes place. The gender gap was out there, has always existed and would be there as long as there is a human race. Communication is the key to developing deeper bonds with the people in your life because it opens the doors to better understanding of the other person while allowing you to express yourself. Listening attentively is vital to healthy communication. Listen actively by asking questions, repeating their statements, nodding and being fully engaged. Let your partner know you appreciate her by offering compliments on things she does and says. (Penn State: Tips for Effective Communication) Gender communication is communication about and between men and women. Recognizing gender differences in communication enables both sexes to communicate better with each other. According to Deborah Tannen, (1992, p 17), many women and men feel dissatisfied with their close relationships and become even more frustrated when they try to talk things out. There are gender differences in ways of speaking, and a need to identify and understand them. Without such understanding, we are doomed to blame others or ourselves-or the relationship- for the otherwise mystifying and damaging effects of our contrasting conversational styles.

Society may wonder why it needs to know about gender communication, and the response is simple. According to Ivy and Backlund, gender communication is provocative, pervasive, problematic, and unpredictable (1994). Humans are especially interested in communication with the opposite sex for several reasons; the main reason is we cannot experience the opposite sex firsthand. They are also interested in the possible rewards that may come from successful gender communication. Gender communication is also pervasive; meaning that interaction with both sexes occurs frequently, everyday, and every hour (Ivy and Backlund, 19914). When the contacts affect us in profound ways, the importance of these relationships and the pervasiveness of our interactions with significant people make it necessary to have a better understanding of gender communication. Thirdly, gender communication can be problematic (Ivy and Backlund, 1994). When gender is added the communication process, the complexity is expanded because now there is more than one way of looking at or talking about something. Lastly, gender communication is unpredictable (Ivy and Backlund, 1994).

Men are traditionally looking for recognition and social domination; they see the world as a battlefield on which each win allows you to get a higher social status. For men, communication is the way to challenge each other and is therefore comparable to a battle, which will only end when one of the interlocutors is defeated. Women tend to be more passive and supportive. The differences in men and women’s goals affect the degree of stress in a communication. As a consequence, cross-gender communication is a mix of competition and compromise (Thorne, 1983).

Even as children, gender differences are obvious: girls tend to be collaboration-oriented; while boys tend to be competition oriented. What this means is that girls (and later, women) tend to use language to create rapport, closeness, and friendship. While boys (and later, men) tend to use language as a way to establish status or authority among themselves. When young boys have to deal with life problems, they tend to act out. They get more aggressive, even violent, and are likely to blame others for their dilemmas but when young girls are faced with similar difficulties, they tend to act in. They get more introverted and usually blame themselves. Being familiar with the lessons men and women learn in their childhood can not only lead to better workplace...
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