Thursday, September 04, 2008

His Brain, Her Brain #3

What I'm reading: Three in Death, by J.D. Robb

What I'm writing: Chapter 16

Today, we'll look at some of the social differences between men and women. Again, these differences are based on physiological differences in the brain, but there are always going to be individual differences. There's a basic framework, but there are also individual modifications to the finished product. Think all those housing developments with virtually identical houses. Eventually, the owners put their own touches into their homes giving them some individuality. However, some of the broad, sweeping generalizations we make about men and women does have a basis in the differences in the way their brains work. If you haven't read posts 1 and 2, I suggest you scroll down and read them in chronological order.

In Social Situations:

Men are goal oriented.
Women are community builders.

Men are the lone hunters.
Women are communal.

Men are problem solvers.
Women are problem sharers.

A woman will come home from a day at work and complain about something that happened. To a women, sharing troubles is a friendship ritual. To a man, talking about a problem is asking for advice. Thus, the man will offer suggestions as to how to fix it. The woman really doesn't want his help, she just wants to vent. Men consider talking about a problem a step down in the hierarchy.

Men are likely to explore an idea through argument. Women will shut down, because they want to keep connections open.

Men define themselves by achievements.
Woman define themselves by relationships.

In the workplace, our hard-wired brains still see the differences between male and female behaviors. Perhaps the reason men don't see women as "equals" in the workplace is because they simply can't. They're perceived as too emotional to be authority figures. Their wiring does make them emotional. But that doesn't mean they can't make the necessary decisions. But a woman is more likely to say, "We're going to talk about "the" rules," which is ingrained in the nurturing wiring, whereas a man would say, "We're going to talk about "my" rules," which fits his hierarchical wiring. Women soften statements, men give orders.

The information in these posts comes from workshops by Eileen Dreyer from the RWA conference, and Tracy Montoya's presentation at the Southern Lights Conference.


Jess said...

but.. "the" rules are still "my" rules! Right?

Terry Odell said...

Always. You've been making the rules since you were two.

Nancy said...

Hi, Terry--

I enjoyed seeing you in San Francisco. I agree with the propositions in this blog in general. I think there are always exceptions to any precept, of course. For example, I'm the map reader and electronics geek in our house.

Men and women do, on the whole, think differently, and it's important to observe those differences when we write.

Terry Odell said...

Hi, Nancy -- great meeting you in SF as well.

I'm the only one who can program the VCR, but I think the underlying hard wiring doesn't take technology into account. And that 'hormone wash' during gestation also covers a lot of territory in creating a continuum of 'gender'.

elaine Cantrell said...

This brain thing explains a lot, doesn't it?

Elaine Cantrell

Terry Odell said...

Hi, Elaine. Yep. No point in getting upset when "he" doesn't apologize. Guys don't get that. It lowers them a rung on the hierarchy ladder. Understanding the wiring can probably save a lot of unnecessary arguments. Maybe even a marriage. They (and we) can't help our genetic code.

Ray said...

This has been a very interesting series. I have always been around working women since I was a teenager. I grew up on a farm. The farmers who had daughters had them work in the fields during harvest so I never thought about women not being able to do whatever men could do. I get angry when other men say they don't belong.

I remember a sailor complaining that when there was a "working party" that the women didn't carry as many cases of sodas as the men did. I asked how many he was talking about. They only carried two at a time and the men carried three or four. I told him if he came to Sick Bay complaining of back pain I was going to write him up for malingering. Only an idiot would try to prove how strong he was doing something like that.


Terry Odell said...

Hi again, Ray.
I think there's a difference between equality based on physical ability to do a job, be it hoisting hay bales, handling fire hoses, etc. Or mental ability to do the math, program the computer, or write a report.

The differences tend to be in the ways women and men interact differently in situations where each perceives what they're doing as 'normal'. A man who rules a company with an iron fist might be perceived as a good leader, while a woman in the same position, if she emulates the male behavior, is considered a "Bi*ch" or a ball-buster. But if she behaves in a 'normal' female brain fashion, she's 'weak'. Let's face it. Women cry more easily, both when they're angry and when they're hit by an emotional situation. They're wired that way; it's a normal response and has nothing to do with being "weak."

It'll be interesting to follow the election. But I refuse to discuss politics, so let's promise not to go there.

Ray said...

I have never had a problem with female supervisors unless it was for reasons other than thinking women couldn't do the job. I had a serious difference of opinion with a female English instructor over a word I used in an essay. She got so angry with me that for the rest of the semester she would get upset if I said anything. When I filled out the instructor evaluation on the last day of class I made a comment that I learned a lot from her and would take another class from her any time. We didn't put our names on the evaluations, but for some reason I got a hug before I walked out of class.

In nearly every class I ever took from high school to college the women seemed to be more serious about learning than the men.