We're pretty used to the idea that women are expected to talk in a manner that's warmer, friendlier and more polite. It does ring a bell should somebody mention the fact that female students tend to give comments in class, starting with tentative phrases like, "this is just my opinion," or "I could be wrong, but.." Male students always seem to be able to say more direct things.
But in a recent study, where a professor analyzed the emails of students, it suggested that the whole 'tentative' issue was depending on what kind of topic it was on. For example, gender-neutral topics, like restaurants, had no difference in tentativeness. But both women and men became more tentative when writing about the opposite gender-stereotype topics.
However, how people write is different then how people speak, and different people experience different levels of tentativeness in class. A reason behind why people may be tentative could be (See, I'm being tentative here) to avoid offending others, as well as keeping their comments objective. Another reason seems to be more of a, "I know my shit here, so listen to me.."
But most of us can agree on one thing: that it can get a tad annoying when students keep making comments in class, and begin their sentences with, "I feel.." or "In my opinion." And the moral of the story here is that men can be as equally tentative as women.
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