This recent piece by the influential gender linguist Deborah Cameron really unpacks the difficulties of creating gender equality in all kinds of public discourse. People have given many relatively simple explanations for why women appear less frequently than men in public life, and why they say less when they do appear, but Cameron shows just how complicated this issue is.
For me, this post is not just intellectually interesting, or something I might follow up in my research, but provides a template for bringing about change. If you are a woman and you’re on a committee, or at a conference, or in a meeting – speak up, and support the women around you in speaking up. To be honest, you can follow that same advice no matter what your gender. As a more junior female academic just starting to take a more active part in university administration, I’m looking forward to putting this into practice with my (fortunately, already very supportive) colleagues.
A great piece, highly recommended reading. If you’re interested in reading more work by Deborah Cameron, I found her book Language and Sexuality very informative when I was getting into this kind of research (Cameron, D. and D. Kulick (2003) Language and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). From a quick glance at her publications list, I can see she has some more recent work I’ll be chasing up too.