Most studies on gender science reveal that differences between men and women in the workplace are mostly learned behaviors. The male and female brain are far more alike than different.
But there are social expectations that cause people to act according to their gender roles. And that's why men typically have certain strengths in the workplace, and women have a separate set of strengths.
Men's Strengths in Business
Research shows that men are more likely to exhibit certain behaviors in the business world that can help them gain some specific advantages. In general:
- Men are more likely to negotiate higher starting salaries. A 2003 study that examined students graduating from Carnegie Melon with master's degrees found that male students negotiated salaries 7.6% higher than their female counterparts. Only 7% of female students even attempted to negotiate a higher salary, compared to over half of the male students.
- Men are more likely to ask for a raise than women. Research by Accenture found that only 45% of women are willing to ask for a raise, compared to 61% of men, which may explain much of the salary differences between males and females. It's estimated, that not asking for a raise could lead to a loss in income of as much as $1.5 million over the course of a woman's career.
- Men embrace technology faster than women. Multiple studies have shown that men tend to be early adopters of technology, which can be appealing to business leaders who are looking for efficient employees.
- Men aren't afraid to improvise. Men tend to be more confident when it comes to their performance. Even when unprepared, research shows men often believe they can 'wing it.'
- Men look for male mentors. Since many senior executives are males, men often set themselves up for advancement opportunities by seeking high-level male mentors.
- Men are good delegators. A 2005 study by Catalyst found that men delegate tasks better than women. They tended to be direct in their communication and told others what to do with a sense of authority.
- Men take bigger risks in applying for jobs. An internal study by Hewlett-Packard found that men apply for jobs when they're 60% qualified, but women won't apply until they're certain they're 100% qualified. A willingness to apply for a job that may seem like a 'longshot' could be yet another reason why men are more likely to advance in the workplace.
Women's Strengths in Business
Research shows that women often exhibit specific behaviors that can serve them well in business. In general:
- Women like challenges. A 2009 international study by Accenture found that 70% of businesswomen asked their bosses for new challenges and opportunities, compared to less than half of their male counterparts.
- Women are good team players. Women leaders tend to be viewed as more supportive. A 2005 study by Caliper found that women tend to demonstrate higher levels of compassion as well as better team-building skills.
- Women are more persuasive. Women tend to be able to read situations wells and take in lots of information, which helps them be more persuasive. Studies show they're often able to understand the other side of a position and they're able to use that to their advantage.
- Women are hard workers. A 2012 survey conducted by Bullhorn Inc. found that 54% of women worked more than nine hours per day, compared to 41% of men. The survey also found that women were more likely to do work on vacation and less likely to abuse their sick leave.
Closing the Gender Gap
Despite women's strengths in business, studies consistently show that most employees still prefer a male boss. And women remain underrepresented in leadership positions.
But, as knowledge of one another's strengths increases, workplaces can become more diverse. A diverse environment, filled with employees with a variety of strengths is good for everyone, including a company's bottom line.