“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best music videos of all time.”
This, of course, is what Kanye West said to Taylor Swift during one of the most highly publicized interruptions of all time.
After Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” beat out Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” at the 2009 Video Music Awards (VMAs), West stormed the stage and took the microphone to make his fated announcement.
Say what you will about the politics of the moment, or Kanye’s motivations, or the persistent underrepresentation of people of color in the film and music industries (all of which are valid discussions for another time), this moment was a clear cut example on a man interrupting a woman.
The tendency of men to cut women out of conversations is common far beyond the VMAs, beyond the world of celebrities and awards shows. It happens on the evening news, in Presidential debates, at home and in the office.
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That’s why one ad agency decided to create an app that quantifies the phenomenon they playfully call the “manterruption.”
BETC Sao Paulo, the ad agency that created the “Woman Interrupted” app, wants to gather worldwide data about the frequency of women being interrupted by men so that they can educate men about their ways.
The app is simple to use and packs its important message into a clean interface.
Users who download the app first record their voice speaking without any interruptions. After doing this, they record conversations that they have with men, through the microphone on their phone, which tracks interruptions by male voices.
None of the recorded conversations are kept, they serve only as the data points that show interruptions remain after the recording is turned off. The number of interruptions are tracked by day, week, month, and year, much like the fitness tracker function built into the iPhone.
The app’s creators hope to gather data points from women around the world in order to track the frequency of male interruptions across different continents.
“At first glance, it may seem like a small problem, but it reflects deeper issues of gender inequality at work and in society,” Gal Barradas, BETC Sao Paulo founder and co-CEO told Adweek. “The app is a way of showing that in fact the interruption is real and alarming.”
Numerous studies across a variety of fields have shown the frequency of men interrupting women at work and in other settings.
A study from Brigham Young and Princeton Universities found that men tend to dominate 75% of the conversation during conferences. A writer for Slate Magazine found that men in the tech industry interrupt women at twice the rate women interrupted men. An article in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper found that women’s voices were significantly underrepresented in law classes.
This app gives women leverage to demand greater respect and back that up with statistics about men’s interrupting ways.
That seems especially important in 2017, when the president of the United States, Donald Trump could be renamed the Interrupter-in-Chief. Vox found that during the first presidential debate, Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton an astounding 51 times in just over an hour.
Someone needs to smuggle this app into the White House, stat.