"Amplification": The Clever Method Women in the White House Use to Be Heard

Female political aides in the White House have banded together and are using a combo-technique of amplification and 'shine theory' to make sure their voices are counted. 

 


The White House is a tough environment for anyone to work in, but it's arguably more difficult if you're a woman. From the long hours and rapid pace to the fact that men are three times more likely to interrupt women while speaking than men, females in the White House have to fight to make themselves heard.

And they do. The women in President Obama’s administration banded together and used what they called “amplification” to ensure that they had equal say in every conversation. As Quartz reports, “When a woman made a good point, another woman would repeat it, and give credit to the originator. This made the idea harder to ignore, or to steal.” A former Obama aide told The Washington Post: “We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing.” Obama reportedly noticed, and began calling more frequently on women and junior aides.

The amplification technique is also known as shine theory. It works like this: befriend and support successful people in order to promote both of you. New York Magazine puts it more simply: “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Writer Ann Friedman elaborates: “When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.”

Not only are female White House staffers setting a great example, they’re reinforcing the benefits of repetition. Research out of Cornell University states that “spaced repetition… uses periodic review of content to improve long-term [memory] retention.” That means that by repeating a woman’s idea, it becomes more valid simply through the act of being repeated. If that sounds a bit far fetched, here’s persuasion expert Dan Pink explaining why:

Repetition has such strong benefits in conversation because it’s a mirroring technique. Mirroring is the act of consciously or subconsciously copying the speech patterns, body language, and even enthusiasm of a conversation partner. Former FBI crisis negotiator Chris Voss told Big Think that “when a person is mirroring who they talk to, mimicking their body language and enthusiasm, it is a signal that the two people are at ease with each other and have taken a similar point of view.” That technique gives credence to both participants in the conversation and leads to better overall expression of ideas, as Voss explains here:

As helpful and useful as these strategies are, they’re not a magic bullet for workplace equality. As Sheryl Sandberg famously explains in Lean In: “In the days of tokenism, women looked around the room and instead of bonding against an unfair system, they often viewed one another as competition… women wound up being ignored, undermined, and in some cases even sabotaged by other women.” Kerry Rubin and Lia Macko, authors of Midlife Crisis at 30, put it even more bleakly:

"What we discovered in our research is that while the empowerment part of the equation has been loudly celebrated, there has been very little honest discussion among women of our age about the real barriers and flaws that still exist in the system despite the opportunities we inherited."

Those flaws need to be addressed in order for true gender parity in the workplace. But in the meantime, the women of President Obama’s staff are certainly doing their part to make it happen.

--

Space is dead: A challenge to the standard model of quantum mechanics

Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.

Videos
  • Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
  • In nature, properties of Particle B may be depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
  • In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.
Keep reading Show less

Vaping changes blood vessels after one use, even without nicotine

E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.


John Keeble
/GETTY
Surprising Science
  • A new study used an MRI machine to examine how vaping e-cigarettes affects users' cardiovascular systems immediately after inhalation.
  • The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
  • The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
Keep reading Show less

Russia sends humanoid robot to space, fails to dock with ISS

The Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.

Photos by TASS\TASS via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Russia launched a spacecraft carrying FEDOR, a humanoid robot.
  • Its mission is to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  • Such androids can eventually help with dangerous missions likes spacewalks.
Keep reading Show less