Tyla with Maja Jovanovich 24 October 2019
Like many, we’ve tried to scoff at the allegation, believe us. But in truth, we’ve got to admit there does seem to be some substance to it.
If we’re not saying sorry for grazing past somebody in the corridor, we’re apologising for sending an email, or even for speaking aloud in a meeting.
And now, brand new research has revealed the troubling extent of our need to say sorry in black and white.
Revealing that women excuse themselves a staggering average of 295,650 times in their lives, research from SerenataFlowers.com laid the issue bare for all to see.
Surveying over 1000 adults, the survey found that whilst a typical male apologises eight times in a day, women exceed this, saying “sorry” an average of 10 times over the same time period.
That means we’re 25 per cent more likely to apologise for something than a man.
For some reason, women just seem to have this deep rooted and insatiable urge to paint themselves as wrongdoers. But what exactly is it that makes us apologise so much more than men?
According to research from the University of Waterloo, Canada, it all comes down to a difference in perception of what we deem offensive.
“If men deem an infraction egregious enough, they apologise,” explains Maja Jovanovic, Ph.D., sociology professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada to NBC.
“The problem is they find very few infractions deserving of an apology, and women are apologising for just about everything”.
As well as a fear of seeming rude, Dr Jovanovic adds that our over-apologetic tendencies are also down to women being “socialised into a passive mindset,” through years of patriarchal norms.
As New York Times journalist Sloane Crosley puts it, for women, “somehow… ‘sorry’ became an entry point to basic affirmative sentences”.
While comedian Amy Schumer also perfectly illustrates the same point in a now viral Inside Amy Schumer sketch.
In the hilarious but painfully relevant clip, a group of successful and accomplished women are seen excusing themselves for everything from being allergic to caffeine to clearing their throats before speaking.
The apologies get more and more ridiculous until finally, a woman is heard dramatically yelling: “It’s all my fault!,” on her deathbed.
As Amy so powerfully shows, the world has conditioned us to think we have to apologise for making ourselves seen and heard – and that has to change.
On top of everything else, the new findings from SerenataFlowers show that a huge 87 per cent of Brits – both male and female – feel the word “sorry” carries little value any more because it’s so overused.
And the worst part about the fact that women are the main culprits here is that the more we apologise, the more we perpetuate the outdated idea that we’re weak and submissive.
Of course, sometimes an apology is needed. We’re not telling you to throw common courtesy out of the window in the name of gender equality.
But perhaps if we all worried a little less about what people think and acted a little less British, we’d actually feel freed by it.
Maja Jovanovich is the CEO of ALL IN and a sociology professor at McMaster University.