Venus, Mars and leaning in…. What if we are missing the point?
By RS5059-GANDI on Sunday, April 14 2013, 06:44 - Permalink
What if we are missing the point? The inclination to see differences
makes us blind to the overwhelming similarities of men and women, and we’re
easily fooled into seeing dissimilarities that don’t exist according to
Stephen Holden. His brief review of scientific studies on gender differences
shows mixed findings in recent published work, raises the issue that
statistical significance is not always significant and points out that when
studies look for gender differences and find none they might not even be
published. Perhaps we aren’t from Venus after all!
Pointing out that women and men are much more similar than some recent
business and pop psychology best sellers suggest is useful but doesn’t explain
measurable differences in pay rates and the number of women in senior or board
positions or part time roles.
What it does remind us is that these differences are not intrinsic to being
male or female so they must be a result of things that can be
Changing long standing, socially entrenched and unconscious biases is
difficult. Anna Genat and Robert Wood’s recent work on unconscious bias shows
that for all the emphasis on the importance of intuition and “going with gut
feeling” we’d be better to slow down and not only respond to what we feel but
analyse why we feel it. And this is particularly true when we might stereotype
male and female competencies.
So success for individual women and men will be related to their talents and
skills but also to how others interpret and value their competencies and more
broadly about the physical and cultural structures and supports they have in
their professional and personal lives. Skills, confidence and smart positioning
are all important but leaning in without appropriate supports results in
And success is a slippery concept. Mary Walshok recently suggested that
Sheryl Sandberg is probably right; success in America requires singular focus
on developing leadership skills and a strong power base. But Walshok goes on to
question this definition of success and draws on her work on corporate cultures
around the world to point out that in the US -and I’d suggest in Australia to a
large degree - success and identity relate to career. Whereas she points to
other countries that rank higher than America in productivity and quality of
life and have very different values which are reflected in the
She believes we should not be discussing whether women need to change in
order to be successful, but to challenge this definition of success and
recognise that not just workplaces but communities and families need time
leadership and expertise. I agree.
http://theconversation.com/gender-differences-more-fictions-than-fact-11725 http://voice.unimelb.edu.au/volume-8/number-12/balanced-response-bias http://www.xconomy.com/san-diego/2013/03/18/women-success-and-corporate-culture-are-these-the-values-we-want/