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Twitter VP explains how to handle 'mansplaining' at the office

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One of the most influential women in Silicon Valley, Twitter's Vice President of Engineering Nandini Ramani has some advice to deal with what she calls "one of her biggest pet peeves."

"Challenge any and all mansplaining," Ramani said at the MAKERS panel at Advertising Week in September.

"Speak up, even when it's hard."

The term "mansplaining" — a situation wherein a man explains a simple concept to a women as if it is new — was first coined by Rebecca Solnit in the popular 2008 essay "Men Explain Things to Me." In a new book, "The Mother of All Questions," Solnit shares inspiring stories of women refused to stay silent.

The author says it's more important than ever before for women to stand up to the many forms of sexism they will encounter.

With the heated political climate that accompanied President Donald Trump to the White House, she tells The Washington Post, there's been an unintentional social effect: More women are supporting each other.

This new culture of support presents an opportunity to address one of the most common forms of workplace sexism, mansplaining, and not stay silent, Solnit says.

But how do you react if you realize you, or a female colleague, is being "mansplained"?

Ramani, who's led teams at Oracle and other big firms, shared a story of being "mansplained" and how it changed her career outlook at AOL and Adweek's MAKERS conference in September.

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

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.

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

She recommends a few steps women can take to fight this dynamic.

"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.

If you're looking for specific ways to challenge mansplaining, steal the strategy adopted by female staffers in the Obama White House.

In meetings led by men, women would echo key points made by female colleagues and be sure to attribute them to the original speaker. This "amplification" strategy forced their male coworkers to recognize the contributions of women, and prevented them from claiming the idea as their own.

Check out what Kerry Washington and 5 other successful women say it takes to get ahead

This is an updated version of an article published on September 29, 2016.