Letters

Cooperative language in consultations by male and female doctors

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7200.1760a (Published 26 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1760

Paper can be interpreted in two ways depending on reader's viewpoint

  1. T A Roper, Senior registrar
  1. St James's University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF
  2. Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT

    EDITOR—In their descriptive study of cooperative language by male and female doctors Skelton and Hobbs show that communication style does not differ with respect to gender.1 They conclude nevertheless that men have more to learn to achieve competence as professional communicators.

    I suspect that their assertion is rooted more in the assumptions of gender stereotypes than in hard evidence. For example, the claim that men dominate talk between men and women is based on a few very small studies. The most persuasive of these, by Zimmerman and West, had conversations from only 11 male-female pairs.2 The claim that men dominate speech even in the presence of female superiors is supported by an even smaller study, which looked at conversations taped for 14-30 minutes but with only a two minute random extract analysed.3 The results were not impressive, and the study's authors …

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