It’s all over the media. It’s on the news and in our favorite sitcoms. Men are just useless, and it’s backed by “research.” Women’s groups have made the prediction that today’s post industrial workplace is suited to a woman´s capabilities and they will soon leave men in the dust. The idea is based on the belief that the skills of multi tasking, interpersonal relations and communication are becoming increasingly more relevant today, and the typically masculine skills (consisting of little more than base physical strength) will soon no longer be needed.
The question is how relevant are these supposedly female skills today and how proficient at them is the average woman?
Women like Hanna Rosin hold strong to the belief that they have an edge in the workplace over men because of their superior ability to multitask.
However, the management theory that fueled the industrial revolution, and is still in use today, is the idea of division of labor. It is the very simple idea that people are more productive within a company when they perform a single task or operation within the organization. If this is still how companies operate, then it seems there would be very little to no need to multi task at all. If your role is that of an accountant that is all you do, all your energy is focused on fulfilling that job and doing it well.
And to those who may say “but women are so good at multitasking they can fulfill the duties of two men, since being a stay at home mum is equivalent to two full time jobs,”
Psychological experiments have shown that multitasking is not viable (for males and females) when fulfilling tasks that require even low levels of concentration (Gladstones, Regan & Lee 1989) (Pashler 1994). In general, these studies have disclosed that people show severe interference when even very simple tasks are performed at the same time, if both tasks require selecting and producing action (Gladstones, Regan & Lee 1989).
Multi tasking it seems is something that a person is only capable of doing when the tasks are menial. Any highly skilled job or operation requires absolute concentration on the task at hand. This is why a surgeon does not take the time to answer his phone during heart surgery. If you want something done well you give it your full and undivided attention; it’s that simple.
Multi tasking is not the way of the future and is actually becoming less important as jobs become increasingly more specialized. So, ladies, your ability to watch TV while talking on the phone to your girlfriend is not going to make you the next Bill Gates.
Interpersonal skills/Customer Service
Another increasingly held belief is that a woman’s interpersonal skills give her an edge not only in her relation with fellow workmates but in her relations with customers and clients. This belief is practiced unashamedly by many companies such as Nestle Australia who proudly display an all female customer service team on their website.
However my personal experience with female customer service has been far less than pleasant. I remember walking into a travel agency in order to inquire about ticket prices. There were only three travel agents in the room, all of them were female and all of them (this may sound like a sexist stereotype lol) were in the middle of what looked like a great conversation. They were leaning over their highly decorated desks smiling and giggling with each other. None of them however acknowledged that I had entered the room.
I waited for what was at least a minute until I decided to politely speak up. “Excuse me; I was wondering if I could get some help?” My polite question was not received in the way I had expected, the one who seemed to be the manager turned to me and just glared. I was shocked. After a long awkward silence she grudgingly decided that she should probably serve me.
I have many more experiences like this one, and the idea that female customer service is less than perfect is a theory that I developed long before I became familiar with the men’s movement.
I discovered a theory that supported this idea of mine when reading the book Society Against Itself, by Dr. Howard Schwartz. This book explains how political correctness is the overvaluing of the maternal ideas of equal love and nurturing, and is therefore based on ideals that are primarily female. He also explains that external demands of reality such as work, achievement and rational order are seen as an enemy to these feminine ideas (“Bringing forth the narcissism of the infant, I experience everything as if it is about me. If it is not for me it is against me.”)
Therefore the demands made of many women by an organization are seen as something being imposed upon them, they are seen as something bad. And the demands made by customers (the external) are also seen as an imposition that is taking happiness away from them wrongfully. This leads to the work relationships of the female to being seen as a great inconvenience and something they rightfully despise. This is why the woman behind the counter will treat you like an annoying turd that she can´t get rid of quick enough.
I suggest that women generally hate work more than men hate work, (that’s why they work less, prefer to work part time, have kids or just not do anything at all) and this hate for the demands of work is reflected in their interpersonal behaviors with clients and superiors that place demands on them.
The idea that females are more effective communicators is widely held and accepted as absolute truth. It is based on research showing that females speak nearly twice as much as men and are good at reading body language. I believe these finding to be legitimate, but the question is how relevant are these skills in most workplaces?
Why not try and answer this question on your own, ask yourself this….have you ever asked a female for directions? Or have you ever tried to ask a woman to explain something technical? If you have you’ll understand what I mean. Just because someone talks more doesn’t mean they are good communicators.
Once again quality over quantity.
The following is taken from a business website that explains communication differences in men and women in the workplace:
“Women are more likely to talk to other women when they have a problem or need to make a decision. Men keep their problems to themselves and don’t see the point in sharing personal issues.”
“Women are more relationship oriented, and look for commonalities and ways to connect with other women. Men tend to relate to other men on a one-up, one-down basis. Status and dominance is important.”
“Women focus on building rapport, by sharing experiences and asking questions.
Men like to tell and give information rather than ask questions. They share experiences as a way of being one-up.”
“If women have a disagreement with each other it affects all aspects of their relationship.
Men can have a disagreement, move on to another subject and go get a drink together.”
“Women get things done at work by building relationships. Men build relationships while they are working on tasks with each other.”
“At meetings women nod their head to show they are listening. Men think the woman is agreeing with them. He then assumes the women will go along with his idea. He is surprised when she later disagrees, since she nodded her head. She has no idea why he thought she agreed with him since he never asked her.”
“At meetings, men only nod their heads when they agree. If a woman is speaking and she doesn’t see his head nod as he listens, she assumes he either disagrees or is not listening.”
This article was intended to point out the differences between the way men and women communicate and then celebrate these differences. However I found it only revealed the flaws in female communication skills and workplace attitudes (It also portrayed men as being extremely competitive but let’s not kid ourselves the workplace is competitive and competition is what has driven our civilization to where it is today).
What I got from this article is that when males communicate in the workplace they are: Impersonal, aware of their role and place, concise and fact oriented, unemotional, efficient, clear, and aware that work should be kept separate from their private life.
Whereas when females communicate in the workplace they: are emotional, are not aware of their place, are touchy and take things personally, do not separate work from private life, are not task oriented, and waste time with friends.
After reading this, which set of skills and attitudes seem the most effective in a work environment? Who would you hire and entrust with your business?….your money?…..your lively hood? I just know that I wouldn´t like to pay someone to socialize and share personal feelings when they are supposed to be working.
It may be true that Women have very effective communication skills, however, these skills are more suited to social life than professional life.
Finally, men have and always will be an invaluable asset to our civilization. We have an ability to adapt, innovate and create that is unmatched, and even after 50 years of affirmative action men still hold the majority of the best jobs. Men also fulfill the most difficult and dangerous jobs that keep society moving and keep us safe (and feminist ask why we get paid more).
The problem is that society and men themselves only measure a man’s self worth in terms of their employment achievement (how much they earn how competent/important they are). This is particularly bad when men’s work abilities are undervalued and in the name of political correctness they are oppressed (example: Ford Motor company did not allow the promotion of white males for an entire year in the name of equality).
Is there any wonder why the male suicide rate is so high, when we have turned our back on the men who sacrifice so much in order to sustain it?