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A study by Alice Deakins analyzed the topics that women and men talk about. Deakins did what is called an eavesdropping study: While seated alone in a dining room where bank officers had lunch, she noted what people at adjacent tables were talking about. This was not a situation where the men were executives and the women their wives and secretaries. The men and women in Deakins's study were all bank officers, meeting as equals at work.

Deakins found that when there were no women present, the men talked mostly about business and never about people, not even people at work. Their next most often discussed topic was food. Another common topic was sports and recreation.

When women talked alone, their most frequent topic was people-not people at work so much as friends, children, and partners in personal relationships. The women discussed business next, and third, health, which included weight control.

When women and men got together, they tended to avoid the topics that each group liked best ...

From Issue:Winter 1991: Men & Women
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