Mars vs Venus
Men are from Mars & women from Venus! For years this saying was enough to explain the differences between men and women, however the idea that men and women are from different planets, speak a different language and well are just worlds apart in general holds no real basis in the practicality of the real world. With sexism, gender inequality & discrimination of women in the work place & society as a whole still a factor, it is a little too dismissive an excuse to accept.
Recently, a social experiment by Martin Schneider, a writer and editor at an entertainment publication went viral after Martin detailed how he had swapped email signatures with a female counter-part, Nicole. In the tweets, Martin shared that under the guise of Nicole he was on the receiving end of undue attitude by potential clients who seemed reluctant to take him seriously, questioning “her” knowledge on the projects she was working on & deadlines. The real Nicole (aka Martin on her email signature) on the other-hand had the most productive week of her life.
Schneider’s tweets quickly gained traction on social media, and many shared his posts to highlight an example of the blatant sexism that working women face. What gives one the impression that men are more knowledgeable & experienced than women? Why is gender inequality still such a global problem? In 2015, South Africa failed to reach the millennium development goals set by the United Nations, in terms of gender equality by a long shot! The development goals aimed at promoting gender equality and empowering women includes targets such as an equal enrollment ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions as well as equal levels of literacy across genders.
One could argue that there are innate differences between how men and women respond to situations in the workplace and understanding what they are and why they exist can not only facilitate better communication but result in a happier and more productive working environment. With the differences between men and women stacking up, perhaps the question should be “Is it possible to use these differences to your advantage?” Personal relationships aside, the work environment is one of the areas where both men & women can make strides to communicate better and improve your professional relationships to ensure that both sexes leave a conversation on the same page. Similarly, an understanding of how best to communicate between the sexes will aid you in various walks of life, including work, friendship and family life.
The common misconception is that women are too emotional while men are seen as the more rational of the genders – was this the case however with the parental brawl at a local restaurant recently? Over the years research on communication between men and women indicate that when it comes to listening, men and women both operate in different ways i.e selective hearing…yes it’s a scientific fact that men have a natural aptitude for problem solving & so take in information in this way – to ultimately solve a problem presented by whomever they are speaking to. Women, on the flip side of the coin, listen to information by making mental notes of the context of the problem and data points, making reference to the various possible solutions to the problem before settling on a desired course of action. The contrast? Well, if men are more interested in the solution, women are more interested in the journey to the solution.
In conversation, women will often include more details in what they say. This can include memories, their emotions, or encouragement to others to do the same. Women conversing together tend to have conversations with more layers and depth than men, with each woman adding more depth to a topic. On the other hand, men tend to have much simpler conversations, which can often appear clearer than a woman’s conversation. Men tend to have more focused conversations without much detail, and often the length of their points are shorter. Men tend to display their intellect in conversation.
With this in mind, scientifically speaking, this does not mean that women are slower than men it simply points to the real issue in workplace conflict…a lack of gender intelligence! We don’t appreciate and respect the differences between men and women & this in turn does not allow us to anticipate them or respond to them appropriately. Facilitating better communication between the sexes doesn’t mean that men need to completely change their behaviour or that women need to change the way they interpret or process information, but in order to improve communication and have a more harmonious work environment, we each have to work harder to understand and respect our differences.