Introduced by Astronomer and Professor, Nicole Gugliucci, a new word has been causing controversy within the business community. Joining the likes of 'mansplaining', Hepeat, whose introduction on Twitter saw 68,573 retweets and 2018,513 likes, is being used to describe a stereotypical phenomenon felt by women in the workplace.
A much shorter way of describing the act of taking a woman's idea and appropriating it, the word may be new but the idea isn't. Former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright complained long ago that even when she spoke up at meetings her ideas were ignored or appropriated by male members of staff. In fact the problem was so common within the Whitehouse that prominent women devised a strategy to counter it. Dubbed 'Amplification', when a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving them credit and 'amplifying' the idea so it was rightfully attributed to its original voice.
Laura R Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, suggested that this isn't a problem confined to politics, writing, "I think every woman who has any degree of power and those who don't, know how it feels to be in a situation where you're trying to do your job and you're either cut off or ignored."
What's worse is that numerous studies show those women who highlight the situation and attempt to target it are often penalized within their roles, with a 2012 study conducted by the Yale School of Management finding that men who show signs of anger are rewarded at work, whilst women are seen as less competent and unworthy of power. Furthermore, Yale Psychologist, Victoria L Brescoll, found within her own research on how the competence of CEOs was judged, that when men spoke more they had 10% higher ratings from their peers, yet for women who spoke up, their competency rating dropped 14% lower.
There are companies attempting to counteract this imbalance, using both blind 'idea drops' in which all employees first write down their proposals so they can fairly be attributed to their owner, and blind recruitment processes, which has seen a significant spike in the hiring of women to top positions
"Glen Mazarra, a Lead Writer and Producer at The Shield implemented a 'no interruption' rule for his entire team, after he became aware of the problem, stating, "Every time they started to pitch, someone interrupted them or stole the pitch or tried to change it. I was complicit in this because my male ear was tuned to the interrupting male voice. So I realized I had behavior that I had to unlearn."
Mazarra later went on to say that not only did his changes impact the women in his team but made his entire team more effective.