A brand new blog has opened with an interesting discussion. Do questions that start by positioning the speaker in a possibly subordinate position make her less believable professionally? Does one invite epistemic injustice for oneself? And should one therefore take a more aggressive stance?
The discussion is interesting and more complex than I’m capturing here. The questioned centered on is whether the writer should change her style. Do go have a look.
One question raised is whether the style of speech is more typical female than male. My own sense is that there’s wide agreement in the relevant literatures that there is a female or feminine style that is more hesitant and deferential. The effects are perhaps fairly unexpected and odd, if this abstract is right:
Women with feminine speech patterns (i.e., use of tag questions, modals, intensifiers, and numeral approximations) are seen as less confident, less assertive, and less believable than women with masculine speech patterns. The present study examined how masculine and feminine speech patterns affect the acceptance by superiors of decisions made by male and female subordinates. Seventy-nine male and female students listened to a tape recording of a subordinate’s proposal for a new electronic game. The results demonstrated that the proposals of subordinates with masculine speech patterns were more likely to be accepted by male listeners, whereas female listeners were not influenced by the speech patterns.
If the conclusion is right, it looks as though it would behoove women in a male dominated context to present themselves non-deferentially, etc.
At the same time, if you are fortunate enough to be able to have some discussion in your department about biasing factors, this particular area could go into the list of things to cover.