Draft: We Asked Chat GPT How to Navigate Mansplaining in the Workplace - Alterre

We Asked Chat GPT How to Navigate Mansplaining in the Workplace

Contributer: Harmony Pilobello

In addition to highlighting female leaders in our ElevatHer series, we are including all things career related.

Since childhood, women have been conditioned to be polite when spoken to. We’ve been trained to nod and smile when someone shares their perspective and, in some ways, to our own detriment.  As we enter the workforce, we then have to navigate the deep-seated integration of patriarchy at every meeting, group project, or work event.  One of the common symptoms expressed in the workplace is mansplaining.

 We’ve asked Chat GPT how to deal with mansplaining and we’re not mad about it.  Here are the responses based on scenarios we’ve given it.  We have also replaced some male names with Ken in honor of the mojo dojo casa house from the recent Barbie movie.

  1. Ken just talked over you
  2. Explaining your job AT you
  3. Offering unnecessary or unasked-for feedback
  4. Doubting or questioning your competence.
  5. Taking credit for your work
  6. Using patronizing language or tone.
  7. Excluding women from discussion and decision-making.

Grab your popcorn ladies...

To counteract mansplaining in the workplace, it's important to promote gender equality and foster an inclusive, respectful, and collaborative work environment. Here are examples of how you can address and counteract various forms of mansplaining:

Talking over a woman: Encourage respectful and inclusive communication in meetings. Establish ground rules for speaking turns, and if someone interrupts, remind them to let others finish their thoughts.
    1. "Hold that thought, Ken, I promise you'll get your turn to talk about sales in just a minute. But for now, let's put our focus on the product, like Barbie and I are doing."
Explaining a woman's own job to her: Politely assert your expertise when this happens. You can say something like, 
    1. "I'm familiar with this area; let me explain it from my perspective."
    2. “That comment makes me wonder if it might be helpful to let you know my background.”
Offering unnecessary feedback or criticism: If you receive unwarranted feedback, thank [Ken] for their input and ask them to provide specific examples or clarification to ensure constructive comments. You can say something like,
    1. Direct Assertiveness:"Thank you for your input. I'll certainly consider it. In the meantime, let's focus on implementing our current strategy."
    2. Assertive Reframing: "I appreciate your perspective. It's always helpful to have different viewpoints. However, I'm confident in my approach, and I've seen some positive results. Let's keep an eye on the progress."
    3. Work-Appropriate Humor: "Thanks for the feedback; I'll file it away with all the other unsolicited advice I've received this week. By Friday, I'll have quite the collection!" (accompanied by a light chuckle)

Remember, the key to these responses is maintaining professionalism while assertively addressing unnecessary feedback or criticism. The work-appropriate humor, in the third response, lightens the mood without being confrontational. It acknowledges the feedback without letting it undermine your confidence.


Doubting or questioning a woman's competence: Maintain your confidence and assertiveness in your work. If someone questions your abilities, respond with evidence of your competence and accomplishments.Here are three effective responses for counteracting mansplaining in the workplace when someone is doubting or questioning our competence:

    1. Confidence and Evidence-Based Response: "I understand your concern, but I'd like to assure you that I have a strong track record of successfully handling similar projects. In fact, last quarter, I led a team that exceeded our targets by 15%. If you have any specific questions about my approach, I'd be happy to discuss them."
    2. Collaborative Approach: "It's great to hear your perspective, and I'm always open to constructive feedback. However, if you have doubts about my abilities, let's work together to ensure the success of this project. I believe in collaboration, and I'm confident that by combining our strengths, we can achieve our goals."
    3. Professional Inquiry: "I appreciate your interest in my work. Can you share your specific concerns or questions about my competence? I'd like to address them directly to ensure we're on the same page and can move forward effectively."

Taking credit for women's work: Politely call out the behavior by saying, 
    1. "I appreciate your input, but I was the one who came up with that idea."

*Note from Harmony* The Harvard Business Review provides a great article about what to do if employees outshine you.   There are so many parallels that can be drawn in how to deal with a male counterpart taking credit for your work or overshadowing your accomplishments.


Using patronizing language or tone: Address this directly by saying, "I would appreciate it if you could speak to me with respect."
    1. Redirecting the Conversation: "I'm confident in my abilities, and I'm sure we can have a productive conversation without a patronizing tone. Can we focus on the task at hand and collaborate to achieve our goals?"
    2. Professional Boundaries: "I'm open to constructive discussions, but I expect conversations in the workplace to be respectful. Let's communicate as equals and work together to achieve our objectives.

Excluding women from discussions and decision-making: Advocate for your involvement in important discussions and decision-making processes. If necessary, discuss this with supervisors or HR.

    In addition to these individual strategies, it's crucial for organizations to promote diversity and inclusion through training and policies that address gender bias and discrimination. Encouraging open and constructive communication about gender-related issues can help create a more equitable and respectful workplace for everyone. Remember that countering mansplaining may require a combination of individual assertiveness, organizational support, and cultural change.

    Thanks Chat GPT. Thanks.

    Concluding Thoughts

    In all seriousness, we also want to include this great info from a Forbes article released in 2018 

    Research shows that women only speak for 25 percent of the time in meetings, while men speak for the remaining 75 percent. Men not only share ideas more, they interrupt women more often than they do other men. Some women have started banding together to help each other claim more of the air time, and a redirecting strategy can help women to reinforce their own points while elevating other women.

    When getting mansplained or talked over, women can redirect to another woman (or close peer if you’re the only female): “Steve, before we go there I’d like to hear what Cindy thinks.” This doesn’t have to be overly scripted, just a way to delicately share the time more equitably.”

    Some alternative recommended replies that work well in various situations would be:

    • “Ken, I appreciate the comment, and I’ve got this.”
    • “Let me continue and if there’s still a question we can address it then.”
    • “That comment makes me wonder if it might be helpful to let you know my background.”

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