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Marketing Communications Professor Reigstad conducts workplace gender study

May 2, 2018

The differences in the way men and women are treated in the workforce have been well documented of late. Wage gaps, harassment and sexual assault are all problems that many women have to face at work. However, there are also quite a few differences in the way that men and women communicate at work.

Marketing Communications Professor Amelia Reigstad recently conducted a study to examine the communication differences of men and women in the workplace, specifically in the field of public relations. Reigstad interviewed 40 practitioners, 30 females and 10 males. Of the 40 practitioners, 20 were from the agency perspective and 20 were from an internal communications perspective. In order to gather her data, Reigstad developed a series of questions for the practitioners that centered around how they feel about their gender, what they think their communication style is, how they work with others and the power structure of their workplace.

Reigstad wanted to determine how the communication differences between genders affects the results of public relations campaigns. She discovered that personality traits played a large role in how men and women communicate differently.

“Men tend to be a little more aggressive than females, females tend to be a little more emotional,” Reigstad said.

While many people view the idea that men are more aggressive than females as stereotypical, Reigstad said that this was a common trend in her findings. Also, she found out that women tend to take longer to make a point or complete a project because they are oftentimes multitasking, while men are usually more focused on completing that one project and moving on.

“That end product might be the same, except men and women are going to get there in different ways,” said Reigstad.

When asked about how they viewed the opposite sex at work, women were very quick to voice their frustrations with men.

“Women have been oppressed for so long, and they’re tired of it,” Reigstad said. On the other hand, men identified differences in the treatment between the different genders, but they were not as adamant about it. One of Reigstad’s more peculiar findings was that women have been taking on masculine qualities in order to be successful in the workplace.

“Women would see how men were behaving, the men were successful, and they would start mimicking that behavior at a very young age,” Reigstad said.

Ultimately, the results of Reigstad’s study has shed light onto the differences in the way men and women interact in the workplace. “It’s opening up doors to have a conversation about an interesting topic,” Reigstad said. With movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up at the forefront of gender equality conversations, the timing of Reigstad’s study is optimal.

“My research happened at a really important, significant time, the momentum is continuing, and people want to hear about it and people want to talk about it,” said Reigstad.

Her findings received national attention and were published in The Business Journals.

“I was really thrilled about the coverage that it received," she said. "It’s great that a story like this could get picked up, the findings are really interesting.

For more information on Reigstad’s findings, contact her at amelia.reigstad @my.uwrf.edu, or visit The Business Journals’ website and read her article.