Men and women are simultaneously very similar and very different. Books have been written about the differences for thousands of years, so we’ll get no thorough treatment here.
I was thinking the other day about a summary difference. The main difference that can help explain why women seem better at some things while men seem better at others. Let’s try.
Perhaps women are better at consistency, and men are better at bursting.
What does that mean exactly? And why would it be true, if it were?
Perhaps women are better at consistency because they raise young. Maybe this is why they’re better at multi-tasking, and why they are passing men in college attendance and graduation.
And perhaps men are better at bursting because they’ve been responsible in the past for short, point-in-time events like hand-to-hand combat, defending a fort, or attacking a nearby city. And maybe that’s why they’re represented well in things like stock trading.
Another way to see this would be in terms of dependability vs. innovation. Many innovative people are bursty, meaning you get can get some great things from them, but not very often. And when they’re off, they’re really off.
Many dependable people, on the other hand, function like clocks. They’re always there, they always respond, and they always put out good work. But when asked for something new and different they are often low on ideas.
Making use of the model
So, what would we do with such information?
First, we’re not even sure this model is valid. Second, even if it were, it wouldn’t apply to everyone. Many men are extremely dependable and consistent, and some women are unreliable and have bursts of excellence and innovation. Not to mention the fact that many people (men and women) are both undependable and lack innovation, or are both highly consistent and creative.
So even if the model is valid to some degree, only an idiot would use it as a primary or single data point.
But let us say that we can validate the model, in a general way, and we can get some predictive value from it. Perhaps then we could use the system to optimize the performance of teams and organizations.
Perhaps we could have a certain number of consistent types mixed with a certain number of bursty types. And perhaps certain roles would be good or bad for those types. I would guess that project management is not a place for a bursty type, and perhaps think tanks aren’t the best place for those who are only consistent but not innovative.
A foolish person reading this right now is thinking about changing his hiring policy to hire only women for project management and only men for think tanks. As I said, that would be a mistake.
But perhaps these tendencies towards strength types within the genders exist. And perhaps maybe knowing about them can help us understand ourselves better.
Eager to hear thoughts.
- It’s also worth noting that these strengths are highly complimentary to each other. Bursting isn’t better than consistency, and in fact, if I had to build a society and could only have one or the other, I’d take the consistency.
- There was a recent study that showed that testosterone was a major factor in societies not advancing (or something to that effect). This would support what I’m posing here, and it may answer why so many world leaders are women now. Maybe running a country is simply better done by a woman? At least on average?