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Women and Public Speaking

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Women
 

"This world taught woman nothing skillful and then said her work was valueless. It permitted her no opinions and said she did not know how to think. It forbade her to speak in public, and said the sex had no orators." as observed nearly a century ago by Carrie Chapman Catt, who is famous in US history as the pioneer of the movement of womens suffrage, seems to be wrong in the turn of twenty first century. Actually hers was a time when women were not welcome in public life to the point of shunning them from public duties. The 1800s in USA witnessed a remarkable rise of the middle class and it was also the time when the compartmentalization of the spheres for men and women at its highest. As the increasing men joined the realm of public life voicing their political preferences, the women got increasingly confined to the domesticity and child raising.

It was frowned upon if a lady with proper station was found to speak in any public platforms like Church, city councils, public squares. This compartmentalization on the basis of gender caused dissent among a section of educated and liberated women and they sometimes through forming group or sometimes through individual efforts attempted to break out of the taboo attached to womens giving voice to public policies. From the beginning of a new century, there were organized womens group who wished to be heard on the matters related to several political policies especially the abolition, prohibition, and woman suffrage. Thus women's rhetorical history coincided with and influenced by womens battles in nineteenth-century to obtain a voice in the public sphere through universal suffrage. It was this battle for gaining right to vote that a group of politically active women of this historical era for the first time acquired access to the sphere of public speaking.

Today women have come a long way. You get to see the charismatic women carrying smart presentations with grace and Úlan. You can find successful women speaker in every field possible field of public life. The journey that started with wrestling their right for making political choice of their country seems to spill over all areas of public life including law, business, science, technology, entrepreneurship, customer care, you name them and you will find them everywhere. There are not many people among us who were never blown off by the oratory skills of a woman speaker on such topics as motivational or inspirational speeches. A new generation of female after dinner public speakers have emerged without whom a high profile gathering  seems to incomplete and who add spices and color to any events by speaking beautifully on any subject starting from fashion to adventure.

So what is the reason of such a wide recognition of women who at one point of history were forced out of public life? What do we get in women speaker that gives them an edge over their male counterparts? It is the ethical approach and the higher level of credibility that makes a woman public speaker to be viewed in the light of added appreciation. As in the sphere of other professions, in the arena of public speaking also it is the fairer sex who are believed to work more sincerely and honestly and that add to a greater credibility to what the women speakers say to her audience. Then there is the linguistic skill and the widely acknowledged fact that the women are better with linguistics where as the men is better at sorting out mathematics. Well there are thousands of exceptions, but generally it has been found that the women can better express their views through the vehicle of language and a winning speech helps us also to emerge as a winning speaker.

However it has also been observed that it is the women for whom it is more difficult to overcome the fear of speaking before audience. Then the major three modes of knowing, that is, silence, received, and subjective stop women from speaking for themselves. But even then modern women speakers have emerged as most powerful and poignant. If leadership means the ability to connect, communicate and inspire, we the women are natural leaders and we have immense power to inspire and motivate the world. Only we have to decisive steps and polish ourselves to come out of the shell of silence that holds us back and challenges our natural roles as leaders.