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 débâcle 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.