“… gender differences are a result of cognitive and behavioral tendencies, first informed by nature, then influenced by culture. This is not to suggest that men will always think and act one way and women will always think and act another. We speak in terms of inclinations and tendencies.”
-Barbara Annis & Keith Merron-
Gender Intelligence: Breakthrough Strategies for Increasing and Improving Your Bottom Line
Last week we looked at why IQ is no longer the sole measure of one’s intelligence and in fact, is a poor predictor of professional success. We then examined specific aspects of EQ (Emotional Intelligence). This week we’ll consider Gender Intelligence (GI): the understanding of and appreciation for the naturally occurring characteristics that distinguish women and men beyond the obvious biological and cultural, to include attitudinal and behavioral differences.
Enforcing gender diversity compliance policies or reaching quotas doesn’t cut it. But taking a look at potential blind spots is a start. In research spanning over 27 years amassing 240, 000 quantitative and qualitative statements from business leaders and managers, Annis and Merron (2014) delineate 4 major blind spots in the workplace:
- The belief that equality means sameness. This is the blind spot that contributes most to talking past one another and misreading one another’s intentions. It’s based on the erroneous idea that were it not for early and continued socialization, women and men would operate in the world in the same way.
- The male-designed organization. It’s time to reexamine the pervasive, militaristic business model we’ve used since the Industrial Revolution: machine-thinking, speed, efficiency, and focus on hierarchy. If women make up somewhere around 50% (57.4 % in 2019) of the workforce, is the old command and control model serving them? Are we taking full advantage of women’s talents and productivity?
- Fixing women to think and act like men. Again, time to reexamine the paradigm. The last 40 years of business coaching, executive management training, sales training and business schooling have focused on helping women to fit into the existing model. This presupposes that women’s styles are inferior to men’s. The new global economy calls for a model that taps into women’s strengths and styles.
- Assuming the off-putting behaviors of men are intentional. It’s easy to see the clash between a collaborative goal and a fix it now goal. Men are comfortable with the 200-year-old paradigm of production and people management and can actually feel derailed by a more collaborative, alternative solution discussion and consensus. Many women interpret this as men just not caring. Yet Annis and Merron’s research indicates that men don’t feel that they are acting intentionally against women. This blind spot is a collision between 2 blind spots!
Given the obvious absence of GI in the corporate world, it’s no wonder that:
- In the US, the number of women entrepreneurs has increased 114% in the last 20 years
- In the US, 77% of network marketers are women
- In the US, 82% of women earning over $100K/year are in network marketing
- The number of women millionaires rose 31% in 2020
Stay tuned for next week’s Blog where we consider additional important Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) issues.
Weekly Challenge: Review the 4 blind spots. Pick one and consider how it might be addressed in your workplace or business.
Supporting Your Success!