The most widely spotlighted difference in the workplace is probably the man-woman debate. Whilst more than 90% of male and female brains are the same, the impact of the differences that do exist is huge. Men react to a threat with trying to find a solution quickly, they want action. A woman will just want to verbalise the issue. But that’s not all…
The male brain is more logical, and has elevated spatial awareness and abstract thinking. Of the six language centres in the brain, the male uses one (in the left, logical side of the brain), and the female uses all six. Males moves to find a solution (quickly), and to incentivise action. When you try to get men to use the right hemisphere for emotion, they will have a short attention span – know that you will lose them in a conversation about feelings after about 10 minutes. They will look to do something physical, and you will think that they are bored. They are in fact, trying to re-focus their brains. Ideally they would like to move an emotion to the logical side of their brain in order to seek a solution. Men are blessed with a more direct and quicker decision-making process honed in their hunting days. Their hormones make them more competitive and territorial. Women produce more of the chemical responsible for empathy, attachment and intimacy. The alpha male likes to be in charge, and is seen to be driven by status, i.e. position. For women, status may translate into being heard, understood and acknowledged.
The hunter-gatherer concept is not a myth. Women are better suited to managing complex situations and processes. It was always thought that generally speaking men are left-brained (logical) and women right-brained (creative and emotional) – however, recent research shows that women are both-brained. (The nerve bundle that connects the right and left brains is larger in women so they are able to receive input simultaneously from both the left and right sides of the brain, making multitasking easier). This means that women are better equipped with intuition, and remember sensual and emotional experiences better. They are more likely to take things personally. Women are able to handle complex emotions, multitask and manage the mental processes – and verbalise them too.
Many men and women have developed their brains to think like the opposite sex. We need to learn from one another, to work together appreciating the differences, filling one another’s gaps. We should not be trying to keep our animals in a zoo, two-by-two in terms of species; we should be encouraging our team to live in the wild, where we strive to survive together. It is not supposed to be sterile or simple, it is supposed to be tough, and when it is, we learn from one another.