(I know this might ruffle a few male feathers, but I’m going there anyway!)
Yesterday my girlfriend — and now colleague! — and I were chatting in my office. We started talking about how men approach work in a much different way than women.
An example: whenever I’ve gone to a work meeting — when I worked in the newsroom, at a nonprofit, in college — the women were always there first, if not a few minutes early. They were almost always prepared, with color-coded labeled folders, a fresh yellow pad, several pens. The men, well, they came as is. Maybe with a pen. And not usually on time.
I realize I’m generalizing here. Yes, there are men who are OCD-like prepared for meetings, who tote around murses filled with steno notebooks and multicolored ballpoint pens. But I find those guys very rare. Like seeing an endangered animal in the wild.
Not to say men don’t work hard. They do. It just seems women approach differently than men.
I used to wish I were a guy — or at least had a guy’s approach to the job. They seem to not fret over the little things, not take comments and remarks so personal, not go home and stress out about everything that happened at the office. They do their job, they don’t take on more than they should, and they don’t get stuck planning the office baby showers or Christmas parties. And they don’t have to play the exhausting (but rewarding) role of Mommy when they get home.
Do women feel a need to step up, to prove themselves in a male-dominated workplace? Are there different pressures for women and men? Are women harder on each other? Are the standards different? Is there really an inherent gender difference? (Read “Why Most Women Will Never Become CEO” in Forbes.)
I don’t know. But I’d like to go to my next meeting with just a mechanical pencil and not feel like I should have baked for the occasion.
Men and women are absolutely different in approach to work, and just about everything else for that matter, and frankly that should be a good thing. But unfortunately for reasons that escape most of us rather than adding value often times it subtracts value. Who knows why? Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that most women’s approach is wrong. I am just amazed that in most cases men and women’s approach is often very different and it causes friction. Why it can’t be that it makes for a broader view is amazing as much as our society tries to be inclusive. I must confess I wonder why the women friends I have obsess over the smallest of detail when in the end that detail is obfuscating the path to getting the big picture right. It simply is not possible to get every little thing taken care of no matter how good you are at anything. No one is perfect. Men seem better at letting go of things. How many men do you know for example that remember minutia years later? If it wasn’t important it wasn’t important. To many women every little detail matters. To most men little details don’t.
As for meeting preparation… if a guy shows up with pen, paper, and on time great. It is whether he writes down anything of significance that matters. Beware of guys who show up like this as they likely are politicians first, competent second. Most guys have assessed whether the meeting has any value and show up with what they need. And the scariest guys are the ones who dress for success. Their mind is on what they’d like to do to you on Saturday and a hundred miles away from getting their work done. Just saying.
Stirring controversy today eh?
I think it’s the opposite where I work. We have 18 men and 2 women at my work place and the women seems to have it easier. They are always just talking all day long and their work is backed up and the boss doesn’t seem to care much.
CAT: It is the genes! There are more left brained men than women. Conversely, there are more right brained women than men. Why don’t men ask for help directions when driving…genes. More men have ADD, ADHD, etc. than women. It’s all because of the apple!
Good Morning Cat,
Yes, you are generalizing. The workplace is far to diverse these days to assess gender traits. I think if anything that separates attitudes towards work is the different generations. At my job, we have boomers, gen-x & millens. We think differently, not in a bad way, just differently. Our expectations & attitudes are what differentiates all of us.
btw. heard on npr about a Princeton alumna, who suggested that Princeton co-eds should find that Mr. Right at Princeton. Taken out of context it sounds so old-fashioned, but it opens a lot of dialogue. check it out!
Hey Cat … wow … that is a bold statement … and … well, I don’t want to start a gender war here …
… actually, I’m really not sure what it’s like in a lot of other offices … but my office area is filled with men … almost a 10 to 1 ratio … and yes, we have a wide variety of personalities … including those who are exactly like the way you describe women …
… yeah, some guys are just that way … but maybe some take on those roles because there aren’t the women who normally would …
… and yes, we have the guys that do a lot of the baking, the planning of parties, and go home to be Mr. Mom …
… but I love women … they’re the greatest creation on earth …
… thank God women are not like the men!!! …
I consider myself a feminist, though not in the sense that people usually think of. I work at a feminist non-profit agency in which all but 5 of our staff members are female. I work closely with two of the men and those two are polar opposites. One is always prepared and the other not so much. One is meticulous and the other is not. One is neat and organized and the other, well, you get the drift. Just thinking of them, it is hard to generalize. However, I feel that they are “mothered” by the many older staff members at the agency, who even go so far as to pack them breakfast and lunches! Their errors are also overlooked or playfully addressed, whereas errors made by the female employees are generally viewed more seriously. It could be the culture of our workplace. As a feminist, I believe that girls and boys have been socialized differently–from the toys they play with to the colors they wear to the way they communicate. Women are socialized to be more apologetic, more considerate and more accommodating. Men are not socialized in that way. Anyway, I guess I’m opening a bigger can of worms but I just want to say that though we can’t generalize, if you do notice a difference between the genders, it’s probably due to culture and socialization.
When we have company parties at work it’s the guys that does all the cooking and food prep.
Hey, Cat. My impression is that my focus on the job is in building and maintaining relationships. I’m sure I’m overgeneralizing here, but I don’t think the men I work with see it that way. They want to get in, get out, not get assigned any extra tasks, but some of them want to appear to be the smartest in the room, so they might prepare a bit for a meeting. The women want to appear to be team players – I think that’s one of the main motivators for being uber-prepared.. There are exceptions, of course. I would love to be freed from these chains, and show up unprepared, or show blow the whole thing off and claim calendar misfunction! But I won’t, cuz, damnit, I’m a team player.
So true expecialy if there on work release program from prison