Do women and men use language differently in spoken face-to-face interaction? A scoping review

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Ilona Plug
Wyke Stommel
Peter Lucassen
Tim Olde Hartman
Sandra Van Dulmen
Enny Das


Although the question whether women and men speak differently is a topic of hot debate, an overview of the extent to which empirical studies provide robust support for a relationship between sex/gender and language is lacking. The aim of the current scoping review was therefore to synthesize recent studies from various theoretical perspectives on the relationship between sex/gender and language use in spoken face-to-face dyadic interactions. Fifteen empirical studies were systematically selected for review, and were discussed according to four different theoretical perspectives and associated methodologies. More than thirty relevant linguistic variables were identified, e.g., interruptions and intensifiers. Overall, few robust differences between women and men in the use of linguistic variables were observed across contexts, although women seem to be more engaged in supportive turn-taking than men. Importantly, gender identity salience, institutionalized roles, and social and contextual factors such as setting and conversational goal, seem to play a key role in the relationship between speaker’s sex/gender and language used in spoken interaction.

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