Do women talk more than men 3



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I recently did a survey of my male and female friends of varying age groups and posed this age-old question.

There was a sharp gender divide. Most of the men answered, “Yes” and then shut up while most of the women answered, “No” and then added their reasons for their belief which ranged from a comparatively pithy forty-seven words to a rather more loquacious six hundred and nineteen words.

There was a fairly substantial sub-group of women whose replies were a defiant “Yes – and I will tell you why” and then proceeded to explain why with the core reason being that women talked a good deal more sense and their words conveyed infinite wisdom. These replies ranged from a modest three hundred and fifty-five words to a reply from one woman who was still rattling on after an hour and a half. The only sub-group among men were those who didn’t actually utter any words but gave responses ranging from sad shrugs of the shoulders to very expressive eye-rolling.

Now before anybody gets too upset I do confess to actually inventing all of this. But that shouldn’t necessarily deny the fundamental truth of it – after all, independent scientific research has proved that independent scientific research can prove anything.

In 2006, American psychiatrist Dr Louann Berizendine published “The Female Brain” which cited studies which allegedly proved that the average woman spoke about 20,000 words a day compared to the 7,000 words a day uttered by the average male. I say “allegedly” because this claim was withdrawn in subsequent editions.

Dr Berizendine was attacked by feminist writers whose main criticism was to the effect that not only was this unscientific but that it made women look like overly chatty air-heads. We can only wonder how much more strident the criticism from these feminists would have been if Dr Berizendine was a man but she is most definitely a woman.

She followed up her first book with, “The Male Brain” in 2010 and she has admitted that her books which emphasised the differences between men and women had led to their huge popularity. Now, she says, “Males and females are more alike than they are different. After all, we are the same species.”

However there is no denying that females do talk more than males, if only to a limited amount.

The BBC recently combined the results of seventy-three studies by US researchers and concluded, “… girls did speak more words than boys but only to a negligible amount. Even this small difference was only apparent when they talked to a parent and was not seen when they were chatting with their friends. Perhaps most significantly, it was only seen until the age of two-and-half, meaning it might simply reflect the different speeds at which boys and girls develop language skills.”

An American psychologist, Dr James Pennebaker, has developed a device that records 30-second snippets of sound every 12.5 minutes. Dubbed the “EAR” – Electronically Activated Recorder – cannot be switched off by the subjects being tested in real life situations.

Dr Pennebaker concluded that in the average seventeen hours of waking time, women uttered an average of 16,215 words while men spoke and average of 15,669 words. Yes a difference but in the scheme of things a negligible difference.

The BBC concluded, “But despite all the evidence to the contrary, we seem wedded to the idea that women talk more. In fact it is one of those areas of life in which we expect significant differences between the sexes, but when the research base as a whole is taken into account, men and women are often far more similar than popularly believed.”

One widely-held scientific belief is that male and female brains are different because of their hormonal structure which, in turn, predisposes men and women to act and talk differently in different situations. It’s all to do with different levels of testosterone although there was a problem in actually proving this until recently.

That has changed with a new study by researchers in Vienna and Amsterdam who studied the brains of female-to-male transgender people. The subject willingly took significant does of testosterone to help make the necessary biological changes and underwent MIR brain scans both before and after the treatment.

The findings proved that brains were affected by increased testosterone and that there were significant differences and that previously “female” brains became increasingly “male” and that the transgender men didn’t vocalise their thoughts as often – just like ordinary men – than when they were biologically female.

I read recently about a prominent American female fundamentalist evangelical preacher who, it seems, simply cannot shut up when it comes to browbeating people into following strict Biblical law. She is the very embodiment of God’s wrath.

I could only wonder if she – and all good Christian women for that matter – knew of 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

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Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. Interesting article Russell. I come from a family of “talkers”. It was always hard to get a word in, and almost an impossibility to get the last word. My mother led by example. She was interested in everything and anything. Listened to others make their point of view, then made her judgement. Usually favouring the underdog she would argue her point be it right or wrong to the end. It is only as my sisters and I have grown older, we have realised we have inherited many of Eva’s (mum) characteristics. Another interesting fact like mum we all married men who like our dad were rather reserved and quiet.
    Wherever you are Eva keep on talking!

    1 REPLY
    • Thanks Cynthia – I suspect, for the reasons you outlined, your sisters’ marriages and your own marriage, have survived so well!

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