If you're a woman, I probably don't need to describe to you why meetings with male colleagues can sometimes be maddening. No doubt you've already experienced the phenomenon playfully dubbed "bropriating." But for some of the guys reading this, and also newcomers to office life, here's a typical little scenario:
Woman contributor: You know, I think X might be a great solution to this challenge we're discussing.
Everyone else: No response to the suggestion and random further discussion of the issue.
Male colleague (two minutes later): You know what we should try? X.
Everyone else: Yeah, you're right. X is a brilliant idea!
And then all the women in the room sit there with smoke coming out of their ears trying not to appear "aggressive," "unprofessional," or "not a team player."
At least the many, many ladies who have experienced this incredibly aggravating form of gender-correlated selective deafness can take heart that they're not alone with their frustration. It apparently even happens to some of the most accomplished and senior women in the land -- White House aides.
According to former and current Obama administration staffers who recently spoke to The Washington Post, earlier in the administration female aides, "complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored," reports Juliet Ellperin.
But these days much has changed. Why? Those brilliant White House women came up with a clever strategy to make sure their voices were heard and they got credit for their suggestions, an idea that you just might be able to steal and use in your own place of employment.
The only catch is that it requires you have other women working with you (which in some industries might be a big ask) and that you're on good enough terms to with them to coordinate your approach because the essence of this trick is recognizing there is incredible strength in solidarity. Ellperin writes:
female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called "amplification": When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution -- and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.
"We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing," said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.
Thanks to this approach and to the President picking up the ball lobbed into his court by his female staffers, Ellperin notes, White House "women gained parity with men in the president's inner circle."
That's awesome news for the country, which is now benefiting from the full contribution of all of the big brains dedicated to solving its problems, but it's also a ringing endorsement of the "amplification" technique. Maybe it would work in your own office too.
Have you ever seen "amplification" employed in your career? How did it work?