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  • Karen Boylston recommends

ARTICLE: Why Hillary Gets Interrupted More than Donald

Updated: May 1, 2020 image

In this week's Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton's strong preparation, presidential presence and agility in debating with Donald Trump helped her win the debate. As we all heard, Clinton's team asked that they build a podium that balanced out their height differences—a 5"4" woman vs. a 6"2" man—and reduce that stereotype.

Today show host Matt Lauer was criticized by media outlets for treating Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump differently when he moderated NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum earlier this month. Consciously or not, Lauer's behavior toward the presidential candidates was consistent with research about gender stereotypes and discrimination—he interrupted Clinton more often than Trump, asked her more challenging questions, and questioned her statements more often.

Research shows that both men and women reduce women to stereotypes and discriminate against them, that assertive women are judged more negatively than assertive men, and that when arguments or ideas are put forward by leaders, they are more likely to be viewed more negatively if the leader is a woman.

Differences in the treatment of men and women are often rooted in unconscious biases, our perceptions of others, which can harden into stereotypes and prejudice over time. We may think that we ourselves are immune to such bias, but we aren't—Do we hire or promote people who look like us? Do we talk to men and women differently? Do our stereotypical views affect the job assignments and opportunities we give to our staff?

What we can do to prevent these widespread biases from affecting what we say and do?

1. We can be aware of these biases and how they operate.

2. We can try to train our brain to make counter-stereotypical associations.

3. We can try individuation-seeking specific information about members of a group to which we don't belong to learn about their preferences, common behaviors, and their ways of thinking.

4. We can try to take the perspective of those with whom we interact.

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