Here’s a depressing reason why more women’s voices aren’t being heard in academics.
Turns out, women are two and a half times less likely to ask questions in academic seminars than men, according to a study from the University of Cambridge.
Researchers observed 250 seminars at 35 schools in 10 countries where the gender ratio was equal, on average. They then asked students about how often they ask questions during educational seminars, talks or presentations and if they didn’t typically speak up in class, why not.
When asked why they didn’t ask questions even if they wanted to women said it was because: they didn’t feel clever enough; they felt nervous; or they were worried that they misunderstood the content.
The study also found that women were more likely to speak up if questions were being asked by the instructor, but not when they are expected to ask the questions. There was a 7.6 percent increase in the number of questions asked by other females present when another woman asked the question first.
The study also found that during a Q&A formatted seminar, when more time was allotted for questions from the audience, women were more likely to participate.