Women in Business: Your E-mails on How Female, Male Brains Work

One More Example of Last Week's Column

*One of the key findings from Salary.com's "2006/2007 Employee Job Satisfaction and Retention Survey" is more evidence that men and women tend to think differently about certain workplace issues. The survey found that while men and women leave their jobs for generally the same reasons, their reasons for staying vary widely.

According to the results: "When men stay at a job they are more likely to do so because of a desirable compensation package, whereas women are more likely to stay because of the people they work with/for and because of work convenience and flexibility."

YOUR E-mails

And now it's your turn again. Are men and women wired differently? Here's what some of you have to say:

Dear Megan,

After 20 terrific years working as a petroleum geoscientist, I know firsthand the fancy footwork involved in successfully navigating the good ‘ole boy network. The oil industry is still male-dominated, not only in its employee base but particularly in its management tiers.

Are there differences in male/female communication styles? You bet! And for a woman to effectively rise through the ranks, she must recognize those style differences and adjust her own style accordingly.

Why aren’t we the same, communication-wise? Much of the difference can be illustrated by how we view our status.

Women see themselves at the center of a relationship network, like a horizontal web or wheel. We are conditioned since childhood to NOT elevate ourselves, status-wise. If a girl attempts to abruptly lead others, she is called “bossy” and may be shunned socially.

When an adult woman today is complimented on her suit, she may respond “this old thing?” or mention she got it on sale, etc. When someone tries to elevate her above the web, she is expected to have an “aw shucks” reaction and resist it.

As for the boys, they are reared to literally knock one another down and rise in hierarchy! As opposed to the horizontal wagon wheel, they have a Christmas tree formation in their minds eye (if, indeed, they EVER think about relationships!).

When two men greet each other after not seeing one another for a while, one may ask his buddy if his golf game is still lousy. The friend may answer affirmatively, then point out “but at least I can SEE the tee below my gut!”

After 20 years spent with mostly guys, I can swear up and down that they insult each other regularly! It’s meant in jest, with no hard feelings. But just consider two gals who’ve been apart some months. Can you -- in your wildest imagination -- picture one woman commenting on the size of the other’s gut?

At the office or on the rigs, I have found myself saying things like, “Gosh, Bill, your wife is gorgeous! How the heck did you get her?”

I was in an executive committee meeting where the vice president was railing about some issue we were having, and he made a comment about reacting like sissies. He then had a political correctness light bulb go off, and he turned to me and said, “No offense!”

I responded, “Well, Robert, I certainly don’t have a problem with the word 'sissy.' Do you, Gary?” They howled with laughter, Gary loved the attention, and a semi-tense moment was defused.

Women do treat their subordinates more like peers, tending to ask rather than order. And that usually earns them loyalty. But they also run the risk of threatening their male superior’s sense of status on his Christmas tree if she is overly familiar with him or treats him like a peer too often. It’s a very fine thread she must tread in order to fit in with the boys yet not offend them.

-LeAnne C.

Dear Megan,

The majority of my jobs have been non-traditional for females and most of the time I am the only female on the staff. In every case I have risen to the leadership role in my department. It was my people skills that allowed me to do that, along with a strong understanding of my occupational responsibilities in a given job.

Leadership skills can be taught, learned and exercised no matter what the sex of the individual is and some men are better managers/leaders and some women are. But it is not their sex or their brain that determines it.

In our culture, women tend to build stronger relationships with people and manage their multi-tasking lives on a daily basis, so they are well-suited to business environments where there are many interruptions and uncertainties.

Women with good skills at managing under stressful conditions will adapt well to a stressful work environment. This is true of men who have learned to manage and delegate without micromanaging and who learn to trust their employees to do the job.


Dear Megan,

It’s interesting in your article on women in business that you don’t mention in your reasons why women are more focused on money, that maybe they are simply more materialistic than men ...


Dear Megan,

I think that either of the sexes can work hard enough to accomplish another task that may be gender-related. But as well I believe there are tasks that men and women naturally gravitate toward.

Men are more likely to be construction workers and get into hands-on grit jobs more in blue-collar relation. You'll see more women in jobs that require types of service, things such as beauticians, waitresses, jobs that are more personal and help somebody in some way.

I do believe there is a difference there, but I wouldn't classify it as bias or discrimination, I would classify it under the different-but-equal category.

In the same way while a father will play a different role in a child's life than the mother (assuming the child has had his or her original parents since birth) they are not unequal gifts, just different.

They equally attribute a different role in the life of that child. As well, I do believe a homemaker or stay-at-home mom is a legitimate job and in such a case you see the difference in how a husband plays the role of breadwinner, while the wife plays the role of family builder and homemaker.

I still believe in that situation as well that while the roles are different (and stay-at-home mom has been demeaned over the years) they are equal in the goal of family building.

-Jeremy S.

Dear Megan,

A man's brain is like a filing cabinet and a woman's brain is like a whiteboard. Whenever a question is posed to a man, he takes out the correct file and reads from what is stored there remaining on task and on topic using topic-related data in all of his arguments.

Whenever a question is posed to a woman, she turns around and looks at her whiteboard where everything is written. This allows her to bring up data unrelated to the topic but linked conceptually in her own mind.

So when husbands and wives argue, the woman will often bring up events that happened far into the past while the husband is still trying to collect the data about this particular incident from his file. This is not to say that these two forms of cognition are not equal, but they are different.

-Phillip J H.
Omaha, NE

Dear Megan,

People do not follow trends to avoid being different. They follow trends because they are reacting to input. They are not contemplating and rejecting input as a trend. So they blindly follow them. I call these people Hukeys. Humans acting like monkeys.


Dear Megan,

Nice smoke and mirrors job. Even though you said female and male capability is no better or no worse, you did make it a point to say that a female will do a better job than a male. Your bias is evident, though subtle.

"Female and Male,” not "Male and Female." Also you make it a point not once but several times to justify why you are not biased. So don't hide that you are sexist. Say it, report the facts, then maybe you can get on with your life.

-David O.
Waverly KS

"Minding Her Business" is a column that covers issues affecting women in business and in the workplace. Female professionals (and male, too, if they wish) can use this resource to network, ask questions, receive and offer advice, share personal experiences … and you don’t ever have to leave your office. Just e-mail herbusiness@foxnews.com. E-mails are subject to editing for length and content.