Male v Female?

I have a test for you. This was inspired by a review of a new book that has been at the top of the New York Times non-fiction best seller list and is just out in the UK.

It is called, wait for it, “The Athena Doctrine: How Women (And The Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future”.

It is complete tosh, as, for a start I am always deeply suspicious of survey-based books (where the participants are likely to give the answers they think they should give rather than the answers they really would give, if they were not part of a research programme). Also, surveys can be used to prove any theory and to confirm any prejudice in the surveyor’s mind.

The authors, via the survey, have identified not only supposedly clear masculine and feminine traits, but also that those feminine traits are the ones needed to be successfully in business today and tomorrow.

I looked at a summary of these traits in The Sunday Times and I am sorry to say that based on my experiences (yes over a great many years now!) in life and business, the list and its ascribing to each gender is totally false.

To say that there are purely feminine traits and then saying these are the better traits for business success is surely at best inverted sexism (saying in effect that women are this and that and isn’t it marvellous) and at worst it is sexist claptrap of the lowest order.

So the test is this: out of this jumbled up list of traits given below, can you say, with any degree of conviction, that any of them apply only to men or only to women? Admit it – you know both men and women in business who have exhibited some of the ‘bad’ traits. The list is: obliging, selfish, adaptable, gentle, kind, good listener, aggressive, honest, rigid, decisive, sincere, co-operative, daring, reasonable, distinctive, direct, supportive, ambitious, team player, straightforward, self-reliant, career-oriented, gutsy, patient, focused, over-bearing, sensitive, direct, dependable, confident, flexible, and dependable.

Picking the most desirable qualities out of the list and trying to create a person who can be successful in their personal and business lives is obviously desirable, but it is not as simplistic as suggesting that there feminine and masculine stereotypes and that it is the feminine traits/values which are the operating system of the 21st Century’. The trick for each of us is to try to develop the right qualities or personality ingredients, to eliminate the undesirable ones and to try and avoid stereotyping ourselves or others.

Published on May 23, 2013 by Neil Thomas