In deliberative groups (i.e. committees, Boards, seminars, etc.), women speak up less frequently than men. Here's a link to one recent research report - there are data on this going back at least 20 years:
This study found that in such groups, men take up about 75% of the time spent talking. Yes, that's men talking three times as much as women, even when women are 50% or more of the group.
As a facilitator, I've been aware of this research for many years and it influences my facilitation work. In addition to ensuring that women have the chance to speak, I encourage groups in which women are a minority to, as much as possible, reach unanimity or at least consensus on any decisions. I am pleased that the authors of this report confirm my approach. They state, "We find a substantial gender gap in voice and authority, but as hypothesized, it disappears under unanimous rule and few women, or under majority rule and many women. Deliberative design can avoid inequality by fitting institutional procedure to the social context of the situation."
What are your thoughts on this? What have been your experiences as a member of a deliberative group? As a chair or facilitator of such a group?