Heather’s Homily – Interrupting Women (plus Tweets)

Today’s homily was inspired by a tweet sent to me by Ann German. (See Human Rights Tweets below.) It led me to an article in Aeon called ‘How men continue to interrupt even the most powerful women‘.

The authors did a statistical analysis of how often the female justices on the US Supreme Court were interrupted in comparison to their male counterparts. It found that “… female justices were three times more likely to be interrupted than their male colleagues. ”

As a women I’ve experienced this, though at a far lower level than a US Supreme Court justice of course! I’m sure most women reading this could attest to the same thing. It’s also something we can’t complain about without being labelled as whiners. It doesn’t matter how valid your complaint is when you’re a woman, there’s always someone who will say you’re just a moaner, and there’s always someone who’ll back that up. Men aren’t as easily labelled as moaners as women.

To counteract that, women often find they have to refrain from complaining unless it’s something really serious. It’s the only way to get listened to. It also means spending a lot of time biting your tongue and putting up with a lot of unfair situations. (And another reason that minor sexual harassment doesn’t get reported.)

This is a power and control situation where, in general, society sees that it’s more acceptable for men to interrupt women than vice versa. As the article notes:

… no, this is not because women are more talkative (a common misconception): men actually talk more than women. Instead, interruptions are commonly interpreted as attempts by speakers to maximise their power through verbal dominance. Men interrupt women more because our society has historically accepted male dominance.

The article also notes that conservatives justices interrupt more often than liberals. This means of course, that liberal women versus conservative men is a double whammy on the court. Thus, conservative male justices get the chance to influence their colleagues much more than liberal female ones.

They checked to see if the level of interruptions was related to seniority. They found that senior justices interrupted their junior colleagues more often and that difference was statistically significant. However, they also found that “… gender is 30 times more powerful in explaining interruptions than seniority.” So clearly the male-female factor is very strong.

The same was true of those who presented arguments before the justices. It is a convention that they stop talking when a justice starts talking, and never interrupt them. Women almost always stuck to this convention but men didn’t. “Male advocates account for approximately 10 per cent of all interruptions; female advocates account for approximately 0 per cent.”

In addition they found that the conservative versus liberal bias carried over to advocates.

… advocates interrupt liberal justices more than three times as often as they interrupt conservative justices, and advocates arguing the conservative side of an issue interrupt justices more than advocates arguing the liberal side. This support for the theory of interruptions as a form of dominance suggests that male justices and male advocates view the female justices as people they can dominate.

The article concludes thus:

… on a societal level, raising awareness is essential. Men need to recognise that this occurs in order to change their behaviour, while women need to fight it or adapt. Therefore, research like ours has the potential to open the eyes of the justices, others in the legal profession, and society at large to this subtle but pervasive form of gender bias.

I can only endorse what the writers of the article say.


Political Tweets

What is wrong with this git?


Time had this to say:


Someone else made up this response!
(Via Ann German.)


Here’s what’s really happening.


Another completely inappropriate tweet from the US president, and CNN’s reaction.
(Via Ann German.)



Human Rights Tweets

The tweet from Ann German that inspired my homily.


The US already rates poorly by OECD standards in international freedom indices. Now the Republicans are looking to take away Net Neutrality in the US. So much for the Land of the Free!


Architecture Tweets

Wow! What a room!


History Tweets

There was a bit more leg-room in those days!


I wonder who took the pic?


Interesting Tweets

So now you know. Where do you fit in?


Entertainment Tweets

They’ve changed a bit!


Michael Jackson played about with his appearance so much, this looks photo-shopped.


Science Tweets

The Greenhouse Effect made easy.


I think I’d want to know what they cultured first! It might be something gross! (Isn’t it always?)


Space Tweets

What to do about space junk?


Marine Tweets

Very cool!
(Via Ann German.)




Other Animals Tweets

It just wants to play!


Other Apes Tweets

I’ve seen human males behave just like this!


Insect Tweets

This one’s got a powerful bite!


Yes, I know it’s not an insect, but it is a creepy-crawly. (I’m not a biologist so I can live with putting it here.)


Bird Tweets

How’s this for a dream come true!


Another pic of Sinbad.


How cool is this!




Cat Tweets

Wow! What a gorgeous animal!


Beautiful and magnificent!!!


This is very sweet, but I wish they put the camera the right way around – I got vertigo watching it!


Staff must keep up with their jobs!


Very cool!


Don’t steal this kitty’s presents!


How does it do that? 😀


This cat found how to get that milk or cream out of the package!



If you enjoyed reading this, please consider donating a dollar or two to help keep the site going. Thank you.



39 Responses to “Heather’s Homily – Interrupting Women (plus Tweets)”

  1. Diana MacPherson says:

    Ohh love that library room and that airplane shot – think of the horror of economy flights now! The Marilyn JFK picture freaked me out a bit. I wonder if the picture taker feared for his/her life? Also, the snail shell gluing was nice. I once had a mystery snail crawl out of the aquarium & smash his shell and die. I felt so bad about it even though he was such a doofus – ate a bunch of my plants (which they aren’t known for) so I had to put broccoli in the tank for him but I’d have to put him right on the broccoli or he’d never find it. 🥦

    • What a sweetie to put that broccoli in there for him!

      If I ever got the chance to build a home exactly how I wanted it would have a big library/reading room in it, though perhaps not as big as that one!!!

  2. nicky says:

    That abolishment of internet neutrality appears another small catastrophe. With Trump in the US and Zuma here, it appears we’re having them on a nearly daily basis.

  3. Federico Bär says:

    CNN’ retort to the President is priceless!
    It reminds me of the anecdote about a kiosk in the entrance hall of a Bank. One morning, a friend requested to lend him fifty dollars, at which the owner replied:
    “Sorry, but I can’t do that. Covenant with the Bank”.
    “What kind of covenant?”.
    “Well, I promised not to lend money to anyone, and they will abstain from selling candies and chocolates”.

  4. Lee Knuth says:

    It’s not only in the Supreme Court but in Congress and boardrooms. It’s a power grab by men and needs to change.

    • Linda Calhoun says:

      Nothing is going to change.

      The male consensus seems to be, “If it doesn’t leave any observable bruises, it’s fine by us.”


      • nicky says:

        It is a finding I find not difficult to accept. In public discourse (domestic is another beast) men tend to interrupt more in general, and women are more often interrupted, yes, that does sounds ‘as it is’.
        At the risk of being accused of blaming the victim, it is not meant as such, but there is the other side too: don’t allow yourself to be interrupted. The Hitch was pretty good at that.
        On the other hand, there is no shame in being interrupted, it is just annoying, as long as it does not distract you from your point, not always easy.

        • Linda Calhoun says:

          “…don’t allow yourself to be interrupted.”


          Acknowledging that this is even possible, how would this prevent a conversation devolving into a shouting match?

          The concept that by actually LISTENING to what another person has to say, instead of merely spending your time and energy planning what you’re going to say next, seems to be beyond your grasp.

          I remember one memorable exchange I had with a guy (and yes, it’s always a guy) where he clearly wasn’t listening to me, and in frustration I asked him, “Can you tell me what I just said to you?”

          Of course he couldn’t.

          Heaven forbid that you might actually LEARN something from someone else.


          • nicky says:

            I specifically referred to the Hitch, he had this art of breaking off interruptions and keeping on course, without descending into a shouting match. I admire that. For all clarity, I’m not good at that at all, haven’t a clue how to do that. And moreover, I tend to be distracted from my point when interrupted. But there must be a technique to do as the Hitch.
            I think that not listening and interrupting are not necessarily equivalent. Most interruptions are in direct response, often too direct, to something just being said, I think.
            In fact, in meetings I generally take notes of points I want to respond to and add. Often these points are addressed a bit later by the one speaking, so I often do not have to comment at all.
            I do not think I tend to interrupt women more than men, but I have never watched a video of one of my meetings or talks. I realise I might have some surprise there, if actually done. However, I’m very aware I do tend to interrupt religious fanatics (yes, always a guy) when they try to divert a discussion into ‘what the Scriptures say’.

  5. Mark R. says:

    Another massive power-grab. Plutocracy/Oligarchy – I don’t think this populace understands either of those important words, either of which describe contemporary America. It’s a dumbocracy. Humans have done it for millennia though. A semblance of government driven by a few at the top who are impossibly rich. Huh? Sounds like a comic book. Go Marvel America!!! And don’t forget your fucking guns! It all fits perfectly into America’s disturbing narrative. Live by the gun, die by the gun. Occam’s Razor.

    • In a country of so many millions, it’s amazing how few have all the power, control, and money. In that, the US isn’t that different from Russia and the oligarchs, or Britain in the time the monarchy and nobility were in charge. The US has its nobility too, just like those they were supposed to be separating from.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Once again, you have no earthly idea what you’re talking about. I’m sorry, but there is no other way to say it.

        • Please explain your pov or go away. Speaking to me like that is not the way to retain your commenting ability. Disagreeing with me is fine, but you have to explain.

        • nicky says:

          Yes j.a.m., one can just as well say you have no earthly idea what you are talking about. It is a void statement. Heather is right that such a comment is useless and adds nothing to a discussion, unless backed up by something: an example, a comparison, a train of thought, a rant even, etc (and Heather made clear that just a link won’t do here).

      • Linda Calhoun says:

        When asked by a reporter why he was supporting the Republican tax bill when the overwhelming majority of his constituents opposed it, a Congressman from NY state replied, “Who cares?” He was told by his big donors to get it done, or not to call them ever again.

        I think that while greed is the main factor in the big squeeze that is about to take place on most of America, there is also an element of cruelty that should not be ignored. I’m not sure why right wingers enjoy that so much, but it’s very disturbing.

        The CHIP program has not been renewed by Congress, and many millions of children are about to lose their healthcare. But, the 1% will get their tax break, come hell or high water. All the independent analysts are predicting massive hardship for most Americans in the long run, after the “middle class tax cuts” run out and are replaced by tax increases.

        Corporate and wealthy tax cuts, however, are permanent.


        • nicky says:

          ‘Who cares?’, that is deeply callous indeed. How does a guy like that get re-elected? (especially in NY).
          ‘”Corporate and wealthy tax cuts, however, are permanent.” I don’t think so, although I admit that during the past decades it appears so. Maybe the US needs a new Rooseveldt , after all, those ‘high’ (note the hyphens) taxes on corporations and the wealthy did come from somewhere.
          Trumpistas, teabaggers and the religious fundamentalists will not be in power forever. Heck, if the US could implement some serious oversight of vote counting they would not even be in power.

          • Linda is right on this one Nicky – that’s how the tax cuts are currently planned in the legislation. The middle class ones are set to expire, but the corporate ones are permanent.

          • nicky says:

            Of course she’s right, that tax plan is terrible and profoundly unfair. And it proposes to make those corporate taxes permanent indeed. I just made the trivial point that virtually nothing is permanent and that future administrations might repeal the whole thing. I admit that that observation does not really help the discussion, but I just needed that to counter my despair.

        • I was so shocked that the healthcare for children thing wasn’t renewed. That was unbelievable to me.

          Despite all the people designing these tax cuts being businessmen, there seems to be no understanding of long-term planning. It’s all about short-term gain. Things like healthy children actually make a huge difference to the future of a society. They learn better and are healthier as adults, Therefore they’re more likely to be educated to their full potential and be available as workers in the future. They will thus cost taxpayers less when it comes to police, prisons. health, social welfare benefits etc.

          There is absolutely no guarantee that giving more money to the wealthy will increase jobs. Businesses have spare money now. They’re not creating new jobs with that money because there’s no demand as the poor and middle class don’t have money to spend.

          I’m surprised at all the sunset clauses on major legislation in the US. They’re rare here (and most places), and never used in things like setting tax rates.

          • nicky says:

            Indeed, not just terrible and unfair, but shortsighted and counterproductive in the long run. A pertinent observation, Heather. One would think these people would have heard about Henry Ford, but apparently not
            Our only hope is that the plan will fail to pass, like the ACA repeal failed.

          • Yes. And since there are still one or two Republicans with a conscience, it may be possible. However, there are also a couple of Dems whose districts voted big for Trump and they’re apparently considering voting for the Bill in order to keep their seats. Disgusting.

          • nicky says:

            Yes, ‘disgusting’ is the operative term and, I’d say, ‘unconscionable’, indeed.

          • Yes, a very good word for it.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Inflation is nonexistent, so there’s no “spare money” out there. If you mean that some individual firms have more capital than they know how to productively employ, their shareholders will demand it back and put it to work elsewhere. One of the many benefits of tax reform is that a couple of trillion dollars of “spare money” that’s now locked up outside the US due to tax disadvantage will become available for investment here, by firms or their shareholders.

            At the macro level there’s no such thing as “spare money”, if by that you mean non-investable capital. At least not unless you believe that (a) there is a physical limit to living standards and (b) everybody on earth has achieved it.

          • Why do you believe that firms will invest the money they will be able to bring back? What is the incentive for that? They have plenty of capital now and aren’t creating jobs so why would that change? First, you have to create demand. That is being done to a small extent by reducing taxes on the middle-class. However, because the tax cuts aren’t permanent, there’s less incentive for people to spend the money.

            The tax cuts for the wealthy will blow out the deficit, the GOP will use the excuse to cut benefits for the poor, and the death spiral will begin.

          • j.a.m. says:

            U.S. firms will be able to repatriate foreign profits and either reinvest them here or return them to shareholders. They can’t do that now without paying a big penalty. If management fails to find productive uses for that capital, then shareholders will demand it back and do it themselves. Not all those investments will be in the U.S., but any number above zero will be a net increase.

            Demand is not static. Income influences demand, but doesn’t create it. Investment and innovation create demand by introducing new products and services and lowering costs.

            Yes, in a perfect world they would have reformed spending first. Alas, it’s not a perfect world.

          • People can’t buy more if they have no income to buy it with. Multiple big firms have already stated that the money they bring back will be used to buy back shares. None of money will go where it’s needed. It is only big companies that have money overseas, but most job creation and innovation is actually done by small businesses. They are getting less of a tax break than the big corporations. It’s about enriching wealthy donors, not ordinary USians.

          • j.a.m. says:

            We’re mixing up a couple of different issues.

            One, foreign profits: Aren’t you always haranguing us for our exceptionalism? Here’s a case where we’re bringing policy more in line with 28 OECD countries. You should be head over heels.

            Two, “None of [that] money will go where it’s needed.” No, to the contrary, left to its own devices, free of political meddling, greed guarantees that capital will always flow where it’s most needed. As I said, if it’s returned to shareholders through dividends or buy-backs, they will find better uses for it.

            Three, “It’s about enriching wealthy donors.” Huh? If I confiscate less of your property, I have not “enriched” you.

          • I have no problem with the policy of making it easier for businesses to bring their money back. I have a problem with the GOP telling everyone it’s a job-creating move. It’s not. It will not create jobs.

            Companies do not create jobs for altruistic reasons. They create them because there is a greater demand for their goods or services. The tax cuts to the middle class will create a small amount of extra demand. The tax cuts for big business are not necessary. They already have capital and access to capital.

            This tax package will increase the debt and the deficit, especially if the middle class cuts are not made permanent.

          • j.a.m. says:

            And by the way, if wealthy donors are responsible for this progress, I’d like to thank them. The other side not only has its own extremely wealthy donors, but also controls the media as well as our academic and cultural institutions.

          • j.a.m. says:

            It’s really not a complicated argument. If you take a few trillion totally unproductive dollars and free them up for investment in the USA, the domestic economy will grow faster than it would otherwise. Some investments will aim to increase productivity, which will reduce demand for workers. But other investments will aim to create demand by expanding markets, improving products and services, or creating ones that don’t even exist today. Job creation is a byproduct, an accident if you will — but for the foreseeable future it’s an unavoidable accident.

            Per the ADP National Employment Report® released yesterday:

            “As the labor market continues to tighten and wages increase it will become increasingly difficult for
            employers to attract and retain skilled talent.” — Ahu Yildirmaz, ADP Research Institute

            “The job market is red hot, with broad-based job gains across industries and company sizes.” — Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics

            Incremental economic growth — from tax reform, spending reform, and Trump’s bold regulatory reform — can only further bolster workers’ position.

  6. Mark R. says:

    “No Earthly Way” might be the crux of your troll’s argument. He be dumb.

  7. nicky says:

    I just reviewed the discussion between Richard Dawkins and Wendy Wright. I’m not going into details of their respective arguments (I think Richard came off best, I mean, you bring Wendy to the sea, and she will say: “Where is the water? There is no water!”).
    However, I tallied the times they interrupted each other. In the one hour and 6 minutes interview, Dawkins (a male) interrupted Wright (a female) 10 times. Wright interrupted Dawkins 19 times, nearly twice as much. (I did not count the ‘yes”es ,’Ahem”s and ‘Agreed”s from either side that did not interfere with the flow). Anecdotal, of course, but still.

    • nicky says:

      I also came to realise how subjective an ‘interruption’ in a real discussion is. A small ‘yes!”, without further words, is, I think most would agree, is not an interruption. However, there are many cases where it is not so clear. Is a short interruption endorsing the speaker an interruption? Is an ‘Ahem ‘ or ‘Hm’, a ‘No!’ or a ‘that’s what you say’ a real interruption? Especially for the latter two I tend to say yes, but it remains arguable.

    • It’s not so much that it’s anecdotal, it’s just one person. Also Dawkins is known for his politeness, and religious people usually think they have a greater right to interrupt in these situations (not always of course).

      • nicky says:

        Yes, I guess Dawkins is not representative. Nevertheless, this interruption thing is interesting.
        There are quite a few other discussions I’d like to tally.
        I also note that Ms Wright is not just a dimwit (well, it is difficult to describe her otherwise), but has some special pronunciations, eg. creator instead of creator. Wonder if that means something in particular?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.