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Why Women Face Different Standards on Zoom and What to do About It

By George Bradley, writing for PR News…

Research from The Harris Poll shows 39 percent of women, but just 25 percent of men, turn off video during Zoom calls. That’s a fairly significant difference. In addition, when they turn on video, women are more likely than men to prepare (do their hair, change clothes or clean visible workspaces). Also, they are more likely to mute themselves, in addition to disabling the video, while multitasking.

We asked professors of communication and business management:

  1. Why are women more likely to disable video and/or microphones?
  2. How can women navigate working, home schooling children and doing much of the domestic work?

Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, clinical professor of communication, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California

Despite decades of progress, business still treats women differently than men. This shows up in verbal and nonverbal communication. On Zoom, these verbal issues are exacerbated. And while it can be uncomfortable for anyone to jump in and speak over others, it’s much more comfortable for men. Staying muted avoids this potential uncomfortable confrontation.

Similar to business, society has different expectations of women. As a result, women tend to be much more critical of their hair, makeup and clothing. They may think if they don’t look as they would in the office, they will lose credibility.

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