Is It Fair To Say That Women Gossip While Men Network?
Talking is the most basic of human needs; to share our good and bad times as well as our feelings and ideas. Call it by any name- networking, shoptalk, locker room talk, girl talk, banter or water cooler chitchat or gossip - it is a way of self-expression and is found in all places where there are people. The only way we can stop people from talking is by taping their mouths shut – not exactly a brilliant solution!
Across industries, women are more likely to be labelled as ‘talkative’ or ‘gossipy’, probably since women are encouraged to share their feelings themselves more freely since childreood. No matter what you talk, it can be regarded as gossip. Unfortunately, more often than not, men easily get away with similar conversation, even if it is also casual.
I know male colleagues and friends who actually start the conversation with, “What new stuff is going on? What is the latest gossip?” Yes, they utter ‘hello’ and ‘gossip’ together in their very first sentence, yet - women are singled out more often. Traditionally, women were seen as homemakers and talking as a way of learning about friends and family. Stereotypes have ensured that women are still seen in a similar light even in offices, marking all their social interaction as gossip.
This study on office co-worker dynamics debunks this myth and calls it yet another way of discrediting the talent and capability of women. Women will talk, for how else would we be able to know and understand our co-workers? It is the way we communicate, appreciate and grow within the organisation.
No matter which way you look at it, any conversation can be labelled as gossip, especially if two women colleagues are talking. According to DeskDemon, this attitude increases bias against women, especially impacting those who are good or successful at their job.
Discussions and talking in a relaxed manner encourages strong bonds between co-workers. Our conversations can also help us with issues unrelated to the office. For instance, a recommendation for an excellent doctor or a great restaurant along with its manager’s number for a good deal. It neither benefits nor harms the organisation but ensures a better quality of life for the employee.
Clearly stating the dynamics of office communication and discouraging gender stereotyping will ensure that only genuine gossipmongers are taken to task and women don’t get a raw deal.
Written by Inderpreet Kaur Uppal