We’ve probably all been there: you’re in a meeting in the office, you patiently wait your turn to suggest an idea, you finally share it with the group only for it be ignored - until someone else pitches the exact same thing - and everyone loves it! It’s incredibly frustrating! And of course, in male-dominated workplaces, this issue is particularly important to women.
Now, a female professor has shared the perfect word to describe this very annoying phenomenon: hepeating. The neologism accurately captures how many men in the corporate world – who are only worried about their own careers – are happy to ignore the contributions of other people, especially women.
Astronomer and professor Nicole Gugliucci, from New Hampshire, explained on Twitter: “My friends coined a word: hepeated. For when a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, but then a guy says same thing and everyone loves it. Usage: “Ugh, I got hepeated in that meeting again.” Or, “He totally hepeated me!”
“So many folks deny that this happens. And yet so much evidence and research shows it happens to women AND black and brown men and women.”
Many women agreed emphatically with the description and shared their own stories of ‘hepeating’. Franico said: “That happened to me this week - I looked at him and said ‘I literally JUST said the exact same thing’. His excuse - he didn’t understand me.”
Another woman added: “That hepeating stuff? Yeah that’s totally a thing y’all”. And Faryal Hasan said: “So I will say this; whenever we are having a discussion on the table, men usually listen to other men more. And even if I say something, there is so much hepeating (when a man repeats something that a woman said and gets more audience). Annoys me to the core.”
One Twitter user even coined her own word to describe how this happens to people of colour: “I’m gonna go ahead and coin ‘rewhite’ then, for every time a person of color says something and is ignored until a white person says it.”
In 2016, the Washington Post reported how women in the White House during the Obama administration came up with a smart and effective way to avoid being ignored in the workplace. Female employees used a meeting strategy they called ‘amplification’ - when a woman made an important point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognise the contribution of the women and meant they couldn’t claim the idea as their own. “We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” said one former Obama aide.
So, if you’re a man reading this here’s some useful tips for your next meeting:
- Make sure you listen closely and acknowledge the ideas of everyone in the room – especially women
- Make an effort to encourage everyone to share their thoughts
- And most importantly never, EVER, hepeat