In mixed company there’s no question which sex has cornered the market on long-winded chatter. Men readily interrupt the speech of women, and women allow the interruption. In one systematic analysis of taped conversations between men and women, the men did 98% of the interrupting. Sociologist Pamela Fishman concluded that men are the talkers and women provide the support work that keep a conversation going. In Fishman’s study of male-female conversations, when women tried to initiate new topics, it was mostly without success. They generously followed male-suggested topics, they asked nearly three times as many questions as the men to draw them out, and they interjected frequent little boosts like “Oh, really?” to keep things perking.
Susan Brownmiller, Femininity, Linden Press, New York, 1984