Are Men Talking Too Much? #whotalks Will Show You.

Inclusion is more nuanced than knowing who’s in the room, because not everyone has equal power or visibility. Often, even in rooms that seem gender-diverse, men still dominate conversations to a large extent.

I noticed this dynamic at events I attended, so I built arementalkingtoomuch.com as a way to measure participation beyond just who’s at the table. It’s a dead-simple website: there are timers to measure when a man is talking vs. when anyone else is talking, and it calculates the percentage of time that men have been talking.

the author Cathy Deng and arementalkingtoomuch.com

the author Cathy Deng and arementalkingtoomuch.com

#whotalks

GenderAvenger was part of my inspiration. I loved the idea of using digital tools to gather concrete data points on gender dynamics. So, I’m thrilled to come full circle and partner with the GenderAvenger community on a new project: #whotalks.

During the 2016 election GenderAvenger partnered with Rutger’s University Center for American Women in Politics to research the prevalence of women commenting on politics during top rated cable shows. The results were discouraging with men appearing 44% more often than women, which demonstrated a clear need to continue exposing the disparity. The GenderAvenger team had been brainstorming about how to keep the drumbeat going around gender imbalance among political commentators. When arementalkingtoomuch appeared, it was a natural fit to add to the GenderAvenger toolkit, and we were excited to partner up.

GenderAvenger folks watched 9 hours of cable news (3 hours of Morning Joe, 3 of Anderson Cooper 360, and 3 of The Five), excluding  the hosts of the shows and any elected or administration officials from the overall count. They don’t claim it is definitive; however, it certainly provides incentive for all of us to watch and count minutes.  Consistent with the 2016 GenderAvenger study, Anderson Cooper 360 scored the highest marks with women speaking 51% of the time. Sadly, Morning Joe is at the bottom again. Women’s voices were not heard more than 20% during any of the 3 hours watched. The Five landed with women speaking an average of 38% of the time.

How you can get involved:

I am hoping that the GenderAvenger community will follow the team’s lead. If you watch talk shows, help us measure who’s talking! Just remember: don’t count the hosts or elected and administration officials, because their titles most often dictate the necessity of their appearances (e.g. Chief of Staff, Press Secretary).

Share your results on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #whotalks, and we’ll promote it!


 
Cathy Deng

Cathy Deng is a fellow at the Buzzfeed Open Lab for Journalism, Technology, and the Arts. She tweets at @cthydng.