Femsy brings up a good idea in a meeting but unfortunately nobody picks up on it. Yet, 10 minutes later Mansy repeats the same idea and the Boss jumps at his idea and is praising him for his brilliance. Frustrating!

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size)

A great leader:

  • Has confidence in her own abilities and is self aware;
  • Is valued and respected for demonstrated expertise in her field;
  • Speaks up, has an own opinion and states it in a direct, transparent and respectful way;
  • Challenges business leaders to facilitate better decision-making.

How to best handle the situation:

Studies show when women speak up at work, they are more likely to be interrupted and less likely to be credited for their contributions. As a result, women speak up less than their male counterparts.

Jessica Bennett from comes up with seven ways to combat “manterrupting”. (man-ter-rupt is an unnecessary interruption of a woman, usually by a man):

  1. First, acknowledge we all exhibit unconscious gender bias

“When a woman speaks in a professional setting she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea” (Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in The New York Times);

  1. Establish a no-interruption rule for everyone at the table;
  2. Practice bystander intervention: stop an interrupter on his or her tracks…. don’t stay silent;
  3. Create a buddy system: pair up with a colleague and agree to actively listen and show interest when one of you speaks up in a meeting (sadly, this is especially effective if your partner is a guy);
  4. Support your female colleagues: give credit where it’s due

“Ask any woman in the working world and we all recognize the phenomenon. We speak up in a meeting, only to hear a man’s voice chime in louder. We pitch an idea, perhaps too uncertainly – only to have a dude repeat it with authority. We may possess the skill, but he has the right vocal cords – which means we shut up, losing our confidence (or worse, the credit for the work)” (Jessica Bennet from;

  1. Practice assertive body language & speak authoritatively;
  2. Support companies with women in power.

Read the full article: “How not to be manterrupted in meetings” by Jessica Bennet.

Other learning suggestions:

  • Re-take ownership of your ideas by appreciating the person (“thank you so much for picking up on this idea again… Let me explain further….);
  • Pair up with a colleague to give you feedback on your performance in meetings and other interactions with other functions. How did you come across? What influence and impact did you have? How can you improve?
  • Attend an executive presence and workplace communication workshop to further enhance your self confidence;
  • Establish a mentor relationship with a senior leader or enter into a Femleadership Expert Power (LEP) Partnership. Hold regular meetings with him/her to discuss specific issues as they arise and debate alternative courses of action to continuously improve your leadership presence.


Do you know how you come across in meetings while presenting? Are you happy with the impression you are creating? How can you strengthen your “leadership brand”?

Femcommunity Tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.


Read more about Co-Colours and Co-Colours Team.

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