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Twitter VP explains how to handle 'mansplaining' at work

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Twitter's vice president of engineering Nandini Ramani has a big pet peeve: "mansplaining."

It's the phenomenon where men condescend to women by explaining simple concepts as if it's enlightening to them.

The tech executive shared some great advice on how to deal with it.

"Challenge any and all mansplaining," Ramani told CNBC. "Speak up, even when it's hard."

The executive who's led teams at Oracle and other big firms recently spoke at AOL and Adweek's MAKERS conference, which highlights women's success stories. She shared a story of being "mansplained" and how it changed her career outlook.

At a previous job at an undisclosed global software company, Ramani excelled in online company chat forums, pitching new ideas and getting strong support.

But the first time her colleagues met her in person, that all changed.

Nandini Ramani, vice president of engineering at Twitter (second from left) at AOL and Adweek’s Makers conference.
Source: Phillip Angert
Nandini Ramani, vice president of engineering at Twitter (second from left) at AOL and Adweek’s Makers conference.

"At my first face to face, everybody then realized I'm a woman," Ramani told the MAKERS audience.

After that, unless a man voiced support for her ideas or explained her ideas to others, they were ignored.

"I was like, 'What changed?'" she said. "That transformation in how they treated me and how much harder I had to fight to get my ideas adopted, that's when the penny dropped for me."

If you're dealing with mansplaining at work, Ramini recommends a few steps to take.

"Speak up, even when it's hard." -Nandini Ramani, Twitter's vice president of engineering

"Find allies or sponsors, male and female, who can advocate for you," the executive told CNBC. "Over time it helps build your credibility and things get easier."

The executive also recommended pitching ideas in a one-on-one setting if pitching in meetings isn't working.

And of course, challenge it when it happens, she said.