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Last year the Oxford English Dictionary included the word ‘mansplaining’ for the first time. In case you haven’t come across it before, it is a conflation of the words ‘man’ and ‘explaining’. It emerged about ten years ago, when the New York Times defined it as characteristic of ‘a man compelled to explain or give an opinion about everything – especially to a woman. He speaks, often condescendingly, even if he doesn’t know what he is talking about, or even if it’s none of his business.’ If you ask most women (in fact, any woman) for examples, you will hear countless ones. My favourite is from Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford. She tweeted recently about an encounter at a dinner where she explained to a man that she had spent twenty years studying failed IT projects in healthcare.1 ‘Let me tell you why healthcare projects fail…’, he replied. Along with her tweet, Professor Greenhalgh posted an algorithm to help men to identify and resist the inclination for mansplaining.2 It includes questions like ‘Did she ask you to explain it?’, ‘Do you have more relevant experience?’, ‘Would most men with her education and experience already know this?’ and ‘Did you ask if she needed it explained?’ Unless the answer to the first question is yes, all the other pathways lead to a diagnosis of ‘Probably mansplaining’, ‘Definitely mansplaining’ or ‘Just stop …
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