It takes a brave person to stand up in front of an audience and expound on the differences between men and women. This is just what American anthropologist Helen Fisher did recently however, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, last month. Men are more analytical, women are better long-term planners, each gender has a different way of falling in love – how’s that for starters? The point she was making was that an understanding of the way men’s and women’s brains develop and how and why they behave can help us to hire the right people, improve teamwork and ultimately, grow the bottomline.
On average, women gather more data, consider the context, are intuitive, have a sympathising mind and think more long-term. Ms Fisher calls it ‘web thinking’. Men, on the other hand, are more focused, think linear, focus on rules and the short-term – ‘step thinking’.
The BBC website has more on Ms Fisher’s report – it really does make interesting reading. Here are just a few points to get you thinking.
- Men think more in terms of status and rank. Women prefer flat hierarchies.
- Men can have tunnel vision, women may fail to get to the point.
- Women find it difficult to counter aggression. When men push back, it earns them the respect of other men.
- When women apologise, they are not really sorry. For men it’s a serious affair, a perceived weakening of their status.
Managers, says Ms Fisher, have to realise that men and women act differently, and that they complement each other. Having only men or women on your team would be like hopping on one foot instead of walking.