Have you ever been a meeting and felt like in order to be heard you had to have a penis?
Dudes will attempt to mansplain things to women in all sorts of situations, but perhaps none more than the office meeting, where research has shown that women do way less of the talking. In one widely covered 2012 study, for example, researchers at Brigham Young University and Princeton University found that, in meetings where both men and women were present, women only spoke an average of 25% of the time—meaning men's voices accounted for a whopping 75% of the meeting. WTF?
If this scenario feels familiar, you will probably enjoy a new website geared toward helping all genders become more aware of how much of the conversation they are dominating.
Say hello to AreMenTalkingTooMuch.com, created by Cathy Deng, a consultant and developer in Chicago. Her website is simple yet effective, featuring two stop watches that allow you to keep track of how much men (or a man) is saying during any given conversation versus non-men (or a non-man.)
Once you start keeping track of time, the site offers a percentage breakdown of how much "a dude" is talking versus "not a dude."
"When people talk about diversity and inclusion in tech, they often count bodies—what percent of women at this company, what percent women at an event," Deng explains on her personal site. "But…inclusion is more than who's in the room. Often, in rooms that seem diverse, men still dominate conversations to a large extent."
Earlier this year, the BBC’s The Forum profiled Silja Bara Omarsdottir, a professor at the University in Iceland, after she called for at least one day a year in which men would not speak in meetings unless a woman had given her opinion first. In the interview, Bara Omarsdottir noted that, because of social conditioning, women tend to wait for their turn to express their opinions while men do not.
While Deng's website takes a playful approach to this imbalance, it may indeed prove a useful tool for change within companies where perceived inequalities persist because they're so hard to quantify. "I'm exploiting the mantra of 'what gets measured gets managed,' she says on her site. Meaning—if employees can point to hard numbers to demonstrate gender inequality, they'll create a stronger case for change.
When I asked Deng how her site was being perceived by the men she knew, she told me in an email, "I know many well-intentioned men who care about inclusion, so they mostly reacted positively to the website and were generally surprised" by the results. Of course, trolls are sliding into her DMs on Twitter as well, she says, but she's shrugging off the indignation of those who can't see the irony.
Finally, if you're squaring off with a mansplainer in your life and clocking his talk time just isn't enough—here are five more effective ways to handle the problem.
Cleo Stiller is a digital producer covering the intersections of sex, tech and culture. Words to live by: get your money's worth.