Keynote: Women, Language, and Power

Language is the currency of power—and women need to master it.


Of all the obstacles to advancement women face in organizations, language is the least examined as a barrier to gender parity. When communicating with colleagues or clients in the C suite or at senior leadership levels, the words women use or their speaking style can be misinterpreted and even depreciated when evaluated against the traditional male norms of speaking. What’s more, women who know the importance of articulating ideas succinctly, confidently, and assertively may avoid doing so out of fear that they will be perceived as strident or unlikable. Yet editing themselves often minimizes women’s power and dilutes their effectiveness. So for better outcomes, women must make conscious choices about the language they use and how they speak.

The Women, Language, and Power keynote presents current research, explores issues of gender and power, and identifies speaking formats that help women come across with presence and authority.