Review of Talking from 9 to 5

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In Talking from 9 to 5, best-selling author and Georgetown University linguistics professor Dr. Deborah Tannen examines cultural norms that feed sexism. Her 1994 classic bestseller unearths gender bias at its childhood roots. For decades, Tannen recorded compelling interviews and meetings. She proffers these exchanges to illustrate the gender bias that tinges corporate speech and behavior. Tannen observes that women’s traditional boundaries guide their speech and behavior to be different from men’s, especially in the workplace. She concludes that recognizing gender boundaries will give insights into your colleagues’ communication styles. With its accessible research and real-life samples, Tannen’s analysis reveals and explains male and female office behavior.

About the Author

Award-winning author Deborah Tannen, PhD, a linguistics professor at D.C.’s Georgetown University, is a frequent contributor to major publications and broadcasts. Her book You Just Don’t Understand remained on The New York Times bestseller list for almost four years.


Cultural Norms and Changes

Tannen conducted her research with professional men and women over a time span from the 1970s to the early ’90s. You might expect much of it to feel dated, but the office behaviors she tracks recur to this day. Members of the baby boomer generation – the first to confront consciousness-raising on this subject – dominate the typical office’s highest echelons, particularly in conservative industries. As they retire, they open opportunities for generation X and millennials. These generations grew up with stay-at-home dads, doctors of both genders, and commanding female role models, including CEOs and high-ranking politicians. Yet, Tannen’s research remains relevant and pertinent to the dominant modes of social interaction she describes.

Tannen’s doctoral studies in linguistics alerted her to the influence cultural norms exert on the speech and behavior that people expect. Children copy their role models’ speech to earn acceptance. They absorb cultural cues from their region, socioeconomic class and ethnicity.

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