Are women and men different? Numerous books have explored the issue in the past. One of the most popular books was John Gray’s “Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus” and it addressed the different ways that men and women interact with each other. Most popular books like Gray’s conclude that men and women vary in their interests, approach to life, and how they communicate.
Why do these differences exist? The two primary realms of differences are biological and social. There are biological differences and our understanding of these is increasing with advances in biotechnology. Social differences are a product of living within cultures and learning to conform to the expectations of cultures.
Some biological differences between men and women are obvious. The skeletal and muscle structure are different. Men typically have a larger frame and greater bone mass. The hormonal mixture of both varies. The lifespan varies on average with women living longer.
Advances in biotechnology have enabled our understanding of the differences between males and females to grow. Studies of the brain have noted that the spheres of the brain vary between the sexes. Girls develop the right side of their brains earlier than boys often resulting in girls being more talkative and better readers than boys at an earlier age. Girls prefer toys that simulate people or living organisms. Women are better able to use both hemispheres of the brain.
Boys develop the left side of their brains faster than girls. The development of the left side provides logical and perceptual skills that are conducive with problem-solving. Boys prefer toys like building blocks that can be manipulated.
Social differences result from a process commonly called socialization. Socialization involves exposing a child to norms and expectations early in life that match the culture’s predetermined descriptions of what men and women should be. The social distinction between the sexes is often captured in the labels masculine and feminine.
Socialization begins early in life. Studies have found:
People speak louder to boys than girl infants.
Boy infants are bounced more than girls.
Mothers and fathers are more direct and make more demands of boys
Girls receive more cuddling from parents and eye contact with mothers
Boys get away with more aggressive behavior in school and at home
Girls acting like tomboys is socially acceptable but boys acting like girls has historically been unacceptable
Girls tend to talk about relationships while boys talk about things and activities
The results of these biological and social differences between men and women include:
Women talk about relationships, clothing, and physical appearances while men talk about sports, money, and goals or achievements.
A man’s sense of identity and value are often defined by achievements while women often based their sense of identity and value on the quality of their relationships.
Failure or financial losses can be devastating for men as changes in physical appearance can be devastating for women.
Men need to feel respected while women need to feel loved
Men want to be self-sufficient while women value sharing with the group
Women tend to communicate to share feelings while men use communication to convey information
The list of differences could go on but the big question is how to mitigate the effects of these differences. The wise man and woman will recognize the differences that exist and learn to work with them.