|Title||Women's Competence in Conversation|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, conversation analysis, conversational competence, language and gender, listening skills, men, politeness, speaking skills, women|
|Journal||Discourse & Society|
In this paper, my aim is to review the logic involved in existing assessments of women's competence as conversationalists. My point of departure is the very definition of competence, which, as I demonstrate, has not been employed in many descriptions of women's deficits. Instead, conversational competence has been generally defined by default, in relation to how men speak and what men mean to say. By contrast, conversation analysis yields a systematic means of assessing the demands that conversation makes on conversationalists and the efforts needed to meet them. To advance this approach, I examine the results of existing research that show women's skills at listening, at effecting smooth transitions between speakers, and at maintaining accord in task-oriented, as well as casual, conversations. This examination leads me to consider how women's conversational competence has been misrepresented in many existing assessments—and to consider how such misrepresentation is involved in the subordination of women by men.