Sarah Paretsky and voices of women

Reading a post on the ever-interesting blog by crime-fiction author Sarah Paretsky, creator of V. I. Warchawski – and, incidentally, learning where and how you can take a quick snap of Barack Obama's home – I read this:

If you watch movies, you may not ever have noticed, but most of the speaking parts go to men.  In fact, 72 percent of speaking parts go to men.  Women can talk less than a third of the time on screen, but, in fact, this mirrors real-life social experience.

A variety of studies, most recently at the University of San Francisco, show that in mixed groups, whether at work or at play, women can speak about a third of the time.  If we take up more time — more space — than that — we’re labeled as conversation hogs, as aggressive bitches, and social pressures are marshaled to silence us.  Notice for yourself the next time you’re at a dinner party and a woman seems to dominate the conversation:  a wall comes down between her and her neighbors.  Women as well as men stop listening to her. 

I find this rather strange. In all my many years at work, I would say without a doubt that women talk far more than men in meetings and in general conversation. (I work for an international company so have many colleagues who are American and from across Europe and elsewhere in the world – so it is not just to do with tight-lipped Brit males.) At home, although the man in our house is outnumbered 3:1, I would say that the women speak a disproportionate amount of the time (none of us is a great chatterer, though, our house is more likely to be silent rather than filled with conversation by either gender). Around and about, when I see men and women together, I think women do most of the talking. Films may well skew the speaking parts towards the testosterone-heavy gender, and in the workplace, the top roles (i.e. the person who has the last word) may well be more likely to be taken by those of the male persuasion. But in my experience, women talk more than men, whatever the social situation – and don't get frozen out for doing it. Naturally, if anyone drones on and is boring, people tend to ignore her – or him!