Women bring different skills to the workplace

August 1, 2017
Victoria Gorman

‘Defending the Caveman’ is the longest-running and most successful solo comedy in South African theatre history. It explains why men and women see the world so differently. The reason that it has played to over a million people, is that we can all relate to this hilarious comedy through our own experience and interactions with the opposite sex.

On a more empirical level, research shows that female brains are highly connected across the left and right hemispheres through white matter, and connections in male brains are typically stronger between the front and back regions. Men’s brains tend to perform tasks predominantly on the left-side, which is the logical/rational side of the brain. Women, on the other hand, use both sides of their brains which means women can transfer data between the right and left hemispheres faster than men.

These differences translate into a number of generalised observations, which have advantages and disadvantages. As with almost everything in life, there are always exceptions to every rule and gender based ‘rules’ are no different. I have highlighted a few differences below:

MULTI-TASKING: Multitasking can result in time wasted due to more errors caused by insufficient attention. Fortunately, women tend to be good at this, while men tend to be task-orientated and better at performing a single task at once. Being task orientated means that men are good at getting things done.

STRATEGIC THINKING: Men do better on more specific spatial thinking (problem solving, and pattern prediction involving objects and their spatial relationships), while women perform better at ‘bigger picture’ thinking. Both are vital in every organisation.

COMMUNICATION: Women are better at social thinking and interactions than men. Achieving strong work relationships through communication and collaboration are highly valued to achieving success in the workplace. Being intuitive and working collaboratively means that women are well placed to take leading roles in organisations and managing diverse teams of individuals.

RISKS VS. REWARD: The male brain is wired for risk-taking more than the female brain. Faced with a risky or challenging situation, the male brain responds by getting a bigger burst of endorphins. Men are therefore more likely to take risks.

Taking risks, provided that it is weighed against the reward, is important. Being too risk averse often results in missed opportunities.

Many organisations recognise that women bring different skills and energy levels to the workplace, resulting in better decision making by bringing together different perspectives. Women are as equipped as their male counterparts to succeed, given the same drive and ambition. However, later in their careers, many women have to make decisions about the sacrifices to be made for family responsibilities, a trade-off that men typically don’t have to make. Companies able to offer more flexible working arrangements to accommodate woman means that these companies have access to the full talent pool.

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