A new mobile app aimed at raising gender equality awareness is helping folks figure out who talks the most: men or women.
“There is research that we tend to underestimate the amount of time that men speak and overestimate the time women speak,” said Fredrik Eklof, the co-founder and creator of Gendertimer.
Gendertimer is a free app that keeps track of how much time each sex spends talking in common situations like office meetings, personal or group conversations - even on TV.
“We wanted something tangible that gave data,” said Eklof, who helped develop the app in Sweden- one of the leading countries in gender equality studies and awareness.
When you’re ready to find out exactly how much time either sex spends talking in a certain situation, you begin by starting the app and indicating how many members of each sex are present. Then, tap a button on the screen each time a male or female starts speaking. The app compiles easy-to-read data indicating which sex talked the most.
Ia Hedberg and Kristina Börtz are using Gendertimer while pursuing their master's degrees in psychology at Lunds University in Sweden. They’ve used the app in several different situations such as business meetings, university discussions and TV news debates.
“Our general impression is that men often talk more than women and seldom are aware of that fact,” Ia said. “The same goes for the women - they are seldom aware that the distribution of speech have been unequal.”
Eklof says his team created the app in an effort to help offices and groups who struggle with a certain person who takes up too much "air time" in conversations.
The app not only shows which sex is speaking the most, but can indicate which individual men or women talk most often. Eklof said that data can help groups determine if they need to stop giving the heavy chatters so much “air time.”
“We think that it can be constructive to time the distribution of speech and in those cases, where you find it unequal, investigate that further,” Ia said. “This can be the first step towards a more equal working environment."
Eklof said that, in one instance, a group using the app in a business meeting surprisingly discovered that men spoke 80 percent of the time- despite the popular belief that women talk most.
Gendertimer can make users feel uncomfortable because finding out who is talking the most might not be desirable to some, according to Eklof. He said that the app typically doesn’t get introduced to a business or office space unless management is on board.
“Our experience is that these issues are dealt with when a high level manager starts to think it’s important enough to do something about it, then the others will follow,” Eklof said.
Gendertimer is working to improve the app so that it automatically recognizes when a man or woman is speaking. It’s available on iPhone and Android platforms and can also be accessed via computer.