If you are a woman reading this, there’s a 99.9 per cent chance the following scenario has happened to you in the office: you make an articulate, intelligent point in a meeting and then you are a) ignored or b) Nigel pipes up unexpectedly and says exactly the same thing 20 seconds later.
And apparently, not even Obama’s paradise-like administration of feminist men is free from such behaviour, surprising as that might sound. Speaking to the Washington Post, several women described it as a common experience when working inside the White House.
It’s not just great men great women are behind, they’re behind other great women too
As a result, one former Obama aide, who spoke anonymously, said that the women adopted the process of “amplification” whereby when one woman spoke, another woman would repeat it, giving credit to its author. She told the paper, “We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing.” And it worked. Eventually Obama started to call on more women more often.
The Cut points out that this is Anne Friedman’s Shine Theory in action: the idea that by coming together, women help each other to shine. The legendary Gloria Steinem told me the same thing as I asked her to sign her book for me – “women help other women” she said from behind a pair of aviators. The brilliant MP Jess Phillips also said the same to me just yesterday as I quizzed her over her relentless ability to speak out when politics has taken a particularly misogynistic turn, "I've got my girls behind me". Indeed, Hillary Clinton’s latest slogan is “We’re stronger together”. It’s not just great men that great women are behind, they’re behind other great women too.
The true brilliance of amplification is that it also takes down the idea of cat fights and competition, so often linked to women in the workplace. Typically men pit powerful women against each other, presumably because the idea of them coming together is just too terrifying. Amplification doesn’t just get women’s voices heard, it calls into question so many of the stereotypes peddled about ambitious, successful women.
So in your next meeting, just imagine how amazing it would feel to drown Nigel out with the amplified support of others – all whilst knowing you can’t be labelled as pushy or abrasive or loud when the room is agreeing with you. We might feel voiceless on our own, but together we can be heard.