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Do Men ‘Steal’ Good Ideas from Women?

Do men “steal” good ideas from women? One theory is that work is a game for men. Men and women work very much like they played as children. Men are energized by competing to win – at work just as in the games they played as boys. The good idea put on the table is the “ball.” The woman left it there, so it is fair to pick it up and run with it.

I think the man’s behavior in such a situation is rarely this conscious. Maybe the good idea was heard at a subconscious or subliminal level, not clearly at the conscious level. So the man actually thinks it is his idea when it comes out of his mouth. Why would the woman’s idea not have been clearly heard? The way women tend to talk at work provides an explanation.

Little girls are taught to “share” and “wait their turn.” In business meetings, research shows, women talk less than men. A woman may wait her turn, which may not come. Or she may speak succinctly, not wanting to take up more than her “fair share” of time. It is harder for some women to interrupt – or to take the floor back when interrupted. Women, more than men, get the feedback on performance evaluations, “Does not speak up in meetings.” If a woman has behaved this way in meetings, others may simply not anticipate powerful contributions. So they may simply not pay attention to her great ideas.

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