Reading Time: 1 minuteThey sure do! However, a Wall Street Journal article (“She’s not Mad.”) reveals that they do. She’s Just not Using Exclamation Marks) states that women are expected to use more exclamation marks and face a dilemma.
Men who write in terse prose are not noticed by their bosses. Research on management has shown that women bosses are not able to tread lightly. Exclamation points are too few and seen as unfeeling and hardy. Too many and they lack gravitas.
A Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication article concluded that the exclamation point was not as much a “marker of excitement” as previous research claims. It is more about friendly interaction. They also found that 73% of exclamations were made in English by women, and 26% in English by men.
Three female Wall Street Journal executives talk about exclamation points in this video. Barbara Corcoran, Shark Tank star, said that women use exclamation points partly because they want others to like them, while senior-level men “don’t bother to add a period to the end.”
Although advice is different, it’s a good idea to use the mark sparingly for business communication. Corcoran believes that women who use many exclamation points are likely to be insecure and not get what they want.
For friendly communications, however, only one or two exclamation marks are acceptable. Corcoran suggests, as did a previous WSJ article that exclamation marks might be appreciated by people who report directly to you.
Questions for Class Discussion
What are some examples of exclamation points, based on what you’ve just read?
Are you noticing a difference in the way women and men use the mark?
Is this going to change the way you use the question mark in this article?