Hello, Is Anybody Listening? | COURTNEY
By Courtney Kenefick
I work in an open office where I sit at a table of eight women.
In our fast-paced, startup environment, it’s full of incessant typing and constant collaboration, punctuated with fits of laughter and mutual praise.
There’s one phrase, usually accompanied by an audible sigh and spoken impassively, that has become a regular under-the-breath utterance among us:
“Nobody listens to me.”
Recently, a coworker of mine started tallying the number times she needed to repeat herself in a meeting before her point was acknowledged. It sparked a discussion.
“Not being heard is one of the most frustrating parts of my job,” she said, “but that problem seems so apparent.”
To us, a group of females who often feel like broken records, it’s an obvious byproduct of being a woman in the workplace.
Our ideas, no matter how clearly and coherently stated, are so frequently being buried or attributed to another person.
The issue is certainly not unique to the small media company where I work. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that female members of the Obama administration successfully employed a technique called “amplification.”
“When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author,” explains the article. “This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution—and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”
My own affliction fogged the idea that my voice carries weight, especially when compounded with those of my allies. I was surrounded by a group of women who I respect and admire and together, we were the solution. Our female companionionship—even in a professional environment—would be the antidote to a problem that was countering the productivity as the company as a whole.
As with many marginalized groups, there’s not only comfort, but potency, in having allies, and I soon learned that even those who contributed to the problem wanted to be a part of fixing it.
I spoke to a male colleague who had recognized the diminishment of female voices in the office, and even admitted a tendency to be louder and more combative himself. What was less obvious to him, however, was a clear and actionable ideas for fixing it. Presenting him with the concept of amplification seemed to offer him some relief, as if the answer were there in front of him the whole time.
There’s no doubt that, regardless of gender, I’m surrounded by great talent, but having a seat at the table doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being heard. It does, however, give you a platform to make sure that the right people are.
Courtney Kenefick is an Editor and Special Projects Manager at the design magazine Surface in New York City. Courtney joined Surface in 2015 as their assistant fashion editor. Previously, she worked as an assistant fashion editor at Travel and Leisure magazine, and interned for the magazines Seventeen, Women’s Health and SHAPE. Courtney graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. In her spare time (which is never enough) Courtney likes to run, travel, cook, read, watch football, and do yoga. She is obsessed with her nieces and nephews and tries to see them as often as she can.