Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – To Women Who Struggle in Meetings by Christy Birmingham

Time for another inspirational post from Christy Birmingham on the subject of confidence in meetings.. This might not be in a business environment but could also apply when part of a book group or other gathering.

To Women Who Struggle in Meetings by Christy Birmingham

When it comes to issues women face, we still seem to be many years away from reaching gender equality. I mean, is this really 2014? Yes, women still struggle in meetings with speaking up, and it’s interesting to find out what research reveals that men think of their female co-workers who sit beside them at the table.

Women at meetings

Photo source: By Nlpictures (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Common

Specific Struggles of Women in Meetings

What exactly are the struggles of women? Many females report finding it more difficult to speak out during meetings than in other business situations, according to a recent study summarized by the Harvard Business Review.

In that post, the researchers wrote that “some [women] say their voices are ignored or drowned out.” Who is drowning them? It would simplify the issue to say it is only men. In reality, there are many parts to the situation. It is likely that the seriousness of the business scenario, in which the managers sit and evaluate their employees based on their words and actions, play a substantial role.

Perhaps the women in the study also felt intimidated by their male counterparts and that is why they did not speak up more? Certainly it was not that they had nothing to say. Personally, I have felt timid around male personalities that are stronger than my own and have remained silent during situations when I had every right – now that I look back on it – to speak up. But, it seemed safer to say nothing and go with the flow.

As well, let’s think about who the managers are of many businesses. Unfortunately, the US corporate world is not balanced in terms of gender; there are not equal numbers of males and females in leadership roles in companies in that country. Yes, the corporate gender gap still exists. While this issue may hold true in other countries too, I am only focusing on the US here as that’s the focus of the Harvard study.

With gender inequality in management, it stands to reason that women might struggle to find their voices during meetings because they see mainly men in their company’s top ranks. Plus, I wonder about the stereotype of corporations being primarily masculine territory. I mean – is this imagery still going strong today in 2014? I had hoped not but now with these survey results I have many doubts.

And, it also occurs to me that women may fear sounding rude if they do speak up in a meeting. They may think that doing so will reflect negatively on their work done back at their desks. Therefore, rather than risk jeopardizing their jobs, they say little during the meetings.

Suggestions for Women at Meetings

Suggestions for women. Photo source: Beyond Access, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Flickr

Suggestions for Women in Meetings

Okay ladies, so now that we realize women aren’t speaking up as much as men in meetings, what are ways to improve the situation? Well, I think it all starts in the mind. Bring to mind images of successfully speaking up during the discussions. When you imagine a positive result, then you are more likely to achieve it. On a related note, rather than worrying what the men sitting around you at the table are thinking, impress them with a confident voice. If you believe in yourself then other people are more likely to do so too.

In addition, take on the approach of “practice makes perfect.” If the meeting is on Wednesday, take an hour on Monday and some more time on Tuesday to practice talking about a few points that will be relevant at the table. Perhaps you have suggestions for the company’s latest marketing strategy or a question that is relevant to ask. Practice saying it now and then it will be easier to say it when the meeting day arrives.

Also, look over the agenda, if there is one, for what will be discussed at the meeting to get more comfortable with the subject matter. Often the agendas are handed out to each employee or send via a bulk email. Doing research on the topics before the discussion begins in the boardroom may be a great way to think of points to say when at the table that ignite conversation and increase the female role there.

What are additional ways to encourage women to speak up more during meetings?

©2014 Christy Birmingham

My thanks to Christy for a post that is helpful for anyone who feels they need additional confidence in a group situation.

About Christy Birmingham.

Christy Birmingham is a freelance writer in Victoria, BC, who has a BA in Psychology and has taken professional writing courses at the University of Victoria. She is the author of Pathways to Illumination (Redmund Productions, 2013), her first poetry book. Her work also appears in the Poetry Institute of Canada’s From the Cerulean Sea: An Anthology of Verse (2013) and the literary journals The Claremont Review and Tipton Poetry Journal.

Books by Christy Birmingham

About Pathways to Illumination.

Pathways to Illumination is the debut poetry collection from Canadian writer Christy Birmingham. The book follows one woman’s journey following the end of an abusive relationship. Read how she struggles to rise from darkness, a soul reaching for light, with words that weave hope and despair through the pages.

A review on Goodreads for Pathways to Illumination

By Rolly A… Five Stars.

I have been reading Christy Birmingham’s poetry and writings for the past three years. This is a work of art at its finest which paints a riveting story of a journey she has travelled filled with what was thought to be love, but resulted in pain, suffering much emotional trauma and eventually finding her way out to live with freedom and an amazingly positive outlook.

Through Christy’s book, we are able to live the fear, trauma and eventual healing we see in the closing poems. Poetry that touches the heart of the reader as it is written from the heart of someone who has been through a great deal.

The greatest blessing is to know Christy and the heart and willingness she has to share in hopes of helping others who suffer. It is my pleasure to call her a truly gifted writer and friend I admire and a person who many look to for strength, courage and support.

Never stop writing Christy, you have been given a very special gift and a gift which will bless many. 

Pathways to Illumination is available exclusively at Redmund Productions (less)

About Versions of the Self

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration. Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

One of the reviews for Versions of the Self

Versions of the Self is a collection of poetry that inspires and enthralls. Each thought-provoking piece is one to be savored. A variety of topics are explored, from nature (Painted Mountains) to simple pleasures (A Sundae Type of Day), from love to heartbreak. Ultimately, this collection is about relationships in all its forms. Christy Birmingham delves deep into the bonds of family (Tender Hands) and friendship, and she also examines the many ways love can go wrong (and right). But the most important relationship she writes about is the relationship we have with ourselves, or more specifically, with the many versions of ourselves that reside within us.

I have so many favorites within the pages of this book. In “Equality and Vision,” Christy honors women from our past, present, and future. Beautifully and delicately woven, “Introspection and Suffocation” resonated with me for many reasons. “Beauty, In Pursuit” examines our society’s relationship with trends and obsession with outer beauty. I could go on and on. If you love poetry, or if you are interested in branching out and reading more poetry, I would highly recommend this book.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Connect to Christy


If you would like to join Christy and the other writers and submit posts from your archives here is the link:

16 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – To Women Who Struggle in Meetings by Christy Birmingham

  1. Great post Christy, having always worked in Public Sector with Equal pay scales and worked for female bosses, I find it quite appalling that there is still inequality in the workplace. I never saw colleagues as men or women, merely people, and come to think of it I look on friends much the same way. I think I have been very lucky to work in such an environment for most of my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Paul for appreciating where I’m coming from with this post. Recently someone said to me that this isn’t an issue anymore but yes unfortunately there’s still inequality in the workplace between genders. I wish it wasn’t. I’m glad you’ve had enjoyable work environments 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m grateful I’ve had these environments and don’t get me wrong some of my women bosses were nightmares (just like my men bosses), but the point is they were bosses not men or women. And yes you are right it is still an issue and one that needs sorting!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I understand. As for bad bosses, you make a great point that that’s a flaw that comes with either gender. And poor managerial skills is a whole separate discussion 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Awesome to have Christy and her informational/inspirationals shares here. A great topic and au current right now! Hopefully with the advent of the new #metoo generation evolving, these issues will continue to be brought to light and will soon become abolished – no more inequality! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You nailed it on all fronts, Christy. I think backlash is a big inhibitor for a lot of women, given that men still wield most of the power. But your suggestions are spot on. Practicing and thinking positively are pivotal, because they help alleviate fear. Terrific post ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up. – Irish Folklore, Debut Authors and U2…. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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