Are Gender Differences A Myth?

By

Are Gender Differences A Myth?
Men and women might not be that different after all.

I was mad at my husband. Boiling mad. And I wanted to get even. Dave was born during the great depression of 1982 and hates to waste money. He is the only 25 year old I know who reuses plastic sandwich bags. So, I got him where I knew it would hurt. I walked through the house and turned on every light in the house. Flashlights. Stove lights. Closet lights. Everything. And then I sat on the couch waited for him to notice. Over the next 20 minutes, my husband walked through the house slowly turning off every light. Then he ate a cookie and went to bed.

When I explained my passive-aggressive failure to my mom she said, "Oh honey, men and women are just wired different." But according to Dr. Janet Hyde a professor at the University of Wisconsin, the differences in how my husband and I approach a conflict may not be attributable to gender.

"There are widespread views that there are big gender differences in communication skills and communication styles and that have been fostered by John Gray’s Mars Venus book…but in fact the differences are tiny," says Hyde.

Dr. Hyde asserts what she calls the "Gender Similarities Hypothesis," which was published in the September 2005 issue of The American Psychologist. Explains Hyde, "The Gender Similarities Hypothesis states that men and women are very similar on most but not all psychological variables, which is so different from the prevailing view that there are massive gender differences in dozens and dozens of psychological characteristics. But when you really look at the evidence it shows a very different picture."

According to the Gender Similarities Hypothesis, many of the stereotypical differences between men and women are moot. Hyde's research found that not only do men and women communicate in similar ways, but that there is minimal difference between male and female self esteem. "This is really important," Hyde says, "because self-esteem affects the way we approach our relationships."