Tag Archives: gender

Friendship Differences by Gender

This slowly absorbing article on the differences between male and female friendships seems to have been compiled with an observant eye… but then I am the same sex as the author.

Researchers say women’s friendships are face to face: They talk, cry together, share secrets. Men’s friendships are side by side: We play golf. We go to football games. […]

Studies show that in their late 20s and 30s, women have a harder time staying in touch with old friends. Those are the years when they’re busy starting careers and raising children, so they don’t have time to gather for reunions. Money is tighter, too. But around age 40, women start reconnecting. Before the 1990s, researchers assumed this was because they had more time for friendship in their 40s, as their children became self-sufficient. But now researchers consider this middle-aged focus on friendship to be a life stage; as women plan the next chapter of their lives, they turn to friends for guidance and empathy.

Men, meanwhile, tend to build friendships until about age 30, but there’s often a falloff after that. Among the reasons: Their friendships are more apt to be hurt by geographical moves and differences in career trajectories. Recent studies, however, are now finding that men in their late 40s are turning to what Dr. Grief calls “rusted” friends—longtime pals they knew when they were younger. The Internet is making it easier for them to make contact with one another.

That’s not to say men don’t have these intimate, sharing relationships:

But again, it’s a mistake to judge men’s interactions by assuming we need to be like women. Research shows that men often open up about emotional issues to wives, mothers, sisters and platonic female friends. That’s partly because they assume male friends will be of little help. It may also be due to fears of seeming effeminate or gay. But it’s also an indication that men compartmentalize their needs; they’d rather turn to male friends to momentarily escape from their problems. The new buzzword is “bromance.”

via @vaughanbell

The Ambiguity of Sex

I’m not a big follower of athletics, but two news items have somehow made their way to my mental inbox from the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin: how ridiculously fast Usain Bolt is, and the controversy surrounding Caster Semenya.

On the latter, Caster is currently undergoing gender verification tests and in the process has garnered a lot of press attention—attention that appears to come from people who are vastly uneducated on the issues being debated. The Nation looks at these issues and describes how sexuality is more ambiguous than you might think.

Let’s leave aside that being male is not the be-all, end-all of athletic success. A country’s wealth, coaching facilities, nutrition and opportunity determine the creation of a world-class athlete far more than a Y chromosome or a penis ever could.

[…] Gender–that is, how we comport and conceive of ourselves–is a remarkably fluid social construction. Even our physical sex is far more ambiguous and fluid than is often imagined or taught. Medical science has long acknowledged the existence of millions of people whose bodies combine anatomical features that are conventionally associated with either men or women and/or have chromosomal variations from the XX or XY of women or men. Many of these “intersex” individuals, estimated at one birth in every 1,666 in the United States alone, are legally operated on by surgeons who force traditional norms of genitalia on newborn infants.

There are a number of good articles written on this, one of which is this excerpt from Robert Peel’s Eve’s Rib (that discusses the case of María José Martínez Patiño), and the Wikipedia articles I’ve linked to above.

The Advantage of Female Executives

Of the top 500 public US companies, firms with women in senior management performed 18 to 69 percent better in terms of profitability than the median companies in their industries. Not only this, but these firms, with around three women in top jobs, scored higher on top measures of organisational excellence by at least 40 percent.

However, as Robin Hanson notes over at Overcoming Bias:

[A]nyone who believed this result should expect to make big profits just by buying female firms and selling male firms.

If many stock speculators believed [this], firm stock prices would jump upon hiring more female execs, making most CEOS quite eager to hire more women execs.  There would be a boom in female execs […]  Since that didn’t happen, I’ve gotta believe most speculators don’t believe those studies.

A couple of thoughts:

  • For a start, this research was conducted on Fortune 500 companies. Not exactly a diverse, or even large, sample to find such correlations in.
  • Such research doesn’t say that female traits (or the lack of male traits) are conducive to success, but that diversity is key.
  • A firm liberal enough to have women in senior management (and rightly so) is likely to be open to many other opportunities than a conservative firm.

Female Sexuality Research: What Women Want

The question ‘What does a woman want?’ was, according to Freud, “The great question that has never been answered”. One person trying to answer this question, however, is Meredith Chivers—a psychologist specialising in sexual behaviour whose work was extensively discussed in The New York Times earlier this year.

The article, focusing on female sexuality, is eye-opening in many ways, especially in showing the gulf between male and female sexuality.

The men, on average, responded genitally in what Chivers terms “category specific” ways. […] The men’s minds and genitals were in agreement.

All was different with the women. No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. […] With the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person.

via Green Oasis

What Maketh A Man?

The Observer asks what five ‘brilliant’ writers believe ‘makes a man’. Jackie Collins goes for talent, Tony Parsons votes for pride, and Jonathan Coe says chivalry… and confusion?

If I’m confused about masculinity, in any case, I think that puts me in pretty safe company – the company of every other thinking male in the country. Because after the New Man debacle came the 1990s wastelands of Lad Culture, and where does that leave us now? Our sexual politics are in the same state as our national politics: confused, moribund, rudderless. Is it time to try to recover some essentials, to see if there might possibly have been some virtue in that baby we so ruthlessly threw out with all the chauvinist bathwater?

It’s actually a good question to ask of yourself; What makes me a (wo)man?

As I said last month, according to Esquire I may not be all man.