Men and women are in fact different. It's time we learn how to apply this positively to our lives.
Contrary to popular belief, men and women are not equal. Despite what we have been led to believe, let me write this again, men and women are not created equal. We are different, and the corporate world is now ready to embrace this reality, rather than continue to operate on the fallacy that men and women should be treated the same. Should I even broach the topic that corporate is still being run from a man’s perspective; meaning it is still weighted to men’s communication and leadership styles? There are unique gender differences, not just at first glance anatomy wise, but also physiologically from the way we have different hormones which reduce our stress levels, to our style of communicating. Recent neurological studies show how men and women’s brains differ when communicating, when under stress, and when reducing stress. The companies that embrace gender intelligent communication are rising to the top of the Forbes lists. Still, both men and women alike continue to comment on why it doesn’t make sense that the few women who make it to top executive positions are still reaching a glass ceiling, despite the fact women are now outranking men in obtaining post-secondary degrees and beyond. Ask any woman who has just decided to have or has just had a baby what is more important to her: raising her family or rising up the corporate ladder. It really should not be about either or. Women can have both. The climate in the corporate world is changing, and the ones that are coming out victors are the ones who acknowledge the unique gender differences, embrace the idiosyncrasies, and create harmony in their workforce. In fact, we as a society need to learn how to create this balance. Stress levels are at an all-time high. If we do not learn how to communicate more effectively with one another so that our relationships both in and out of the workplace are more balanced there is not going to be a thriving population a few generations down the road. We now understand the research behind the hormones responsible for men and women coping differently with stress, and how this actually increases stress levels in the opposite sex—both at work, and at home. The companies rising to the top are the ones which embrace gender intelligent communication. Why? People are able to communicate with each other more effectively, be more productive, and are generally happier, because they feel heard and respected. The levels of women and men at the top of corporate will equal out when this change in culture is embraced.
Just yesterday on BNET both Kimberly Weisul blogged about people still discriminating against women when they make investment and leadership decisions and Margaret Heffernan blogged about bias blinding us to being more successful by incorporating that which is unfamiliar into our decision-making process. Margaret is encouraging us to embrace, hire, and work with whomever and whatever is different from us. I’m throwing my two cents in as well to add to this discussion, as the timing is right and we are ripe for change. I am a former Marine Corps officer, who also happens to have a master degree in counseling. I have lived the experience of being in a male-dominated world. I also have the knowledge base from counseling that most problems, whether they are personal or related to work, are caused by a failure in communication due to unrealistic expectations and unexamined assumptions. With that being said, one of the major areas I work with people on now as a Mars Venus Success Coach is helping people communicate more effectively to improve both their professional and personal relationships. Articles abound with what is unfair and wrong about why women are not being slotted in top executive positions. There are still ceilings to break so we can build a stronger, more efficient, more balanced workforce. We’ve gotten this far operating on the premise (which is both an unrealistic expectation and unexamined assumption) that men and women are equal, deserve the same opportunities, and should be treated the same way. Women with their degrees not too long ago stepped up to the plate to take on executive positions. Many wondered why it was so difficult to be promoted or to be paid an equivalent wage. The world they were operating in was one created by men. Unfortunately, this is still the case in most industries. Most of the corporate world still operates in a system gender-biased to men’s style of communicating. Women are now and have been in the workplace since our first world war, and the phenomena being discussed centers around the shift that has occurred with more and more women being in the workforce. Countless studies now show women seek and obtain BOTH undergraduate and graduate degrees at unprecedented levels. With the slip in the economy, more women have also hung up their hats and returned to raising their kids, because the climate in corporate was not habitable for long-term residency. It is intolerable that we continue to operate from the prejudice that women should fit into this concept of “corporate” that was designed by and for men.
With more women in the workforce communicating in the style unique to their gender, corporate is no longer a man’s world. To prove this point, the companies that fiscally are succeeding and surpassing their counterparts are the ones who embrace the unique differences of the sexes into their climate. This is where the focus should be—on the solution of how we make ALL companies this way. We should focus more energy and our resources to raising awareness of how to intelligently communicate with one another so that all of our goals are met. If we are able to respect each other for what we have to offer, then the quality of life for everyone both in the workplace and at home will rise. The answer lies in acknowledging, understanding, respecting, and encouraging our different communication styles based on the proclivities of our gender. If we can figure out how to communicate intelligently, where no one person or style or way is better than the other, then relationships will become re-balanced both at work and at home. As I commented on Kimberly’s blog, leaders know that their _____ (you fill in the blank, as you are a leader right now in evoking this change) is only as successful as the quality of their relationships with their people. There will be no ceiling to break, because a new corporate world will have been created embracing the culture shift, climate change, whatever you’d like to call it where both men and women are respected equally for their uniqueness.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Corporate Media Relations
Mars Venus Coaching