Diversity and difference in communication
Diversity and difference in communication

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Diversity and difference in communication

4.10 Men and women communicating differently?

Activity 18

0 hours 20 minutes

Reread the summary and quotations from Tannen's and Gray's work on the previous screen, and then make notes in answer to the following questions.

  • Can you think of examples from your experience that support these claims about gender differences in communication?

  • Can you think of examples from your experience that undermine such claims?


You may well have thought there is some truth in the claims made by Tannen and Gray, and that to some extent these claims are borne out by your own experience: perhaps in your personal life, or in your experience of working in or using health and social care services. You may even have recognised aspects of yourself in their descriptions of ‘typical’ male or female communicative behaviour. Or you may have thought of people (again, perhaps, including yourself) whose style of communicating contradicts such statements: perhaps a particularly sensitive male colleague, or an especially competitive female manager.

This course has offered a social constructionist critique of generalised accounts of difference, whether based on ethnicity, gender or some other factor. How might a social constructionist respond to the kinds of generalised claims made by writers such as Tannen and Gray? The next activity gives you an opportunity to critique ‘essentialist’ notions of gender difference for yourself.


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