Men and women speaking at a desk in a workspace

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Finally, there’s a perfect term for when a man repeats, then gets credit for, a woman’s idea

‘Hepeating’ and ‘copywhiting’ are a few of the ways we marginalize people and their work.


Samantha Grasso


Many a woman has been in this exact situation: We’ll make a suggestion in the workplace or some other collaborative setting, get shut down for whatever reason (maybe the idea sounded bad coming from our shrill voices? Maybe our shrill voices weren’t loud enough to hear over all other meeting noise?), then watch in silent resentment as a male colleague not only repeats this same idea, he gets credit for it.

It’s embarrassing, infuriating, and also finally, finally has a name: he-peating.

The term, coined by the friends of Nicole Gugliucci, an assistant physics professor at the University of Virginia, has a pretty simple definition. Hepeating happens when a woman suggests an idea, gets ignored, then has the idea repeated by a man, under which circumstance the idea is absolutely adored.

Not sure how to use it in a sentence? Use it as a verb as you would the word repeated, then apply it to the situation. Take Gugliucci’s examples:

On Twitter, tens of female respondents sounded off, applying the term to a myriad of situations and recalling when they, unsurprisingly, have been hepeated. Men also chimed in (as they do), sharing stories of similar behavior they’ve noticed in their own workspaces.

For example, the term applies to when a male colleague mocks your idea in a patronizing voice:

Or perhaps, as a pattern of gendered silencing (possibly unintentional) in the workplace:

Or, exactly like the time the internet freaked out over Sen. John McCain’s “no” vote on the “Skinny” Obamacare repeal in July, while Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski had stood firmly in opposition the entire time, and didn’t receive nearly a fraction of the praise he did.

While “hepeated” might be a gendered term, the phenomenon itself doesn’t stop at gender. Are you a Black woman whose idea was recycled and credited to a white female peer? You’ve definitely been hepeated (or, maybe in this case, she-peated, or as other Twitter users suggested “copy-whited“).

The thing is, however, workplaces can sometimes be so averse to listening to women that sometimes hepeating, or as another Twitter user put it, he-laying, becomes a tactic to make sure an idea gets the “proper” evaluation. Which, yes, is complete bullshit, but there’s a reason white male allies are so valuable in movements for equality for race and gender—people generally value their voices more, just because they were born as white men.

Unfortunately, hepeating, copywhiting, and all other ways women and people of color are marginalized in the workplace by having their ideas wrongfully appropriated, seems to be much more unintentional than tactical. However, take this advice from the women in the Obama administration who were tired of being ignored or spoken over: They began repeating each others’ ideas, giving credit to the originator, and making the idea harder to ignore as a way to “amplify” each others’ voices.

“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” one former Obama aide told the Washington Post

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