The use of uptalking–tending to end your sentences on an upswing, as if making everything a question–is more prevalent among successful women than men. That’s if you go by contestants on Jeopardy, the TV game show. Thomas Linneman, a sociology professor at William & Mary, noticed that women with higher scores used the uptalk technique more frequently than men with commensurately high scores. And also that men used uptalk when they answered a question a woman had gotten wrong first, and not as frequently when correcting a man’s answer!
Linneman says it may be a way for women, who may incur subtle (and not so subtle) discrimination in the workforce for being confident, to soften their presentations. We’re waiting for Linneman to analyze speeches by Mary Barra, Sheryl Sandburg, and Marissa Mayer. These women would no doubt be high-scorers on Jeopardy. Do they uptalk?