What’s different between men and women?….. in the context of professional style and attitude in work place.

Mar 26

Data analysis always progresses a bit like the parable of blind men and the elephant.   The king of Savatthi gathered a group of blind men and asked them to describe what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of its body.  The blind man who felt the head thought the elephant was like a pot; the one who felt the body thought the elephant was like a grain silo…. 🙂

I have tried to go beyond describing only “parts” of the subject under investigation, but I am sure that the holistic “elephant” is yet to be fully deciphered.  Therefore your help, comments, opinions are welcomed and appreciated.

My instrument of investigating the subject matter is PSAQ (Professional Style & Attitudes Questionnaire).  The questionnaire brings insight into the personal and professional style through analyzing 30 factors and 4 summary concepts.  These factors are all material in discussions regarding functioning in a professional environment.

I analyzed last year’s questionnaire responses (over 1000) out of curiosity.  My first aim was to answer: “The difference between M/W…” well J.  Analysis through PSAQ data should be unbiased as the questionnaire was not designed to measure gender differences.  Nonetheless, the subject matter can be investigated by analyzing the data, just as you can use the data to analyze differences in occupations and education.

My conclusion is as follows:  Gender is seldom a determinant factor for a specific profile.  Differences between individuals can very well outweigh the gender difference.  The most important factors of both genders are not very different.

We can observe a fascinating shift in gender difference if I question the general observation by investigating the result in managerial and none-managerial subgroups.   The question is then: is the general observation still valid?

There are both affirmations and refutations of existing clichés in the findings.

For instance:  we find that women have a stronger need for “recognition” – they want confirmation for what they do well, disregard whether they are in a leadership role; men are faster decision makers and are more analytical, but this gender difference disappears amongst managers.   In fact there is significant difference between women in a management role and women in a none-management role.

We can also look at the factors where no gender differences are found.  One example is how people explore the boundary of social norms.  The reference scores for both genders are low, in fact at the bottom of the value hierarchy. Whereas in the past I could observe significant differences between managers and none-mangers, such difference has completely disappeared.

Would you like to read more?  You can find further analysis on www.psaq.eu under “News and Analysis.”

1150 respondents filled in the PSAQ last year.  82% of them have received higher education.  Therefore the conclusion of this analysis applies mostly to the educated professionals, and should not to be generalized to entire workforce.

Considering that the analysis brings about the highlight of one’s professional style,  gender is never the cause of a particular professional style or attitude in a work context.

The social aspect of work is more important for women, while men tend to be more task-oriented.  This difference in gender is significant for managers.  However the difference is not obvious for workers in none-managerial positions.

If we look at the entire group, men make decisions faster and more analytically.  However, in leadership roles, there are no gender differences in decision making style.  If we compare decision making styles between managers and none-managers, both genders exhibit faster and more analytical decision making in managerial functions.

Men are more open to changes than women, and women are less inclined to upset the status-quo if everything works smoothly.  The same difference can be observed between managers and none-managers, disregard gender.

Women are more action-oriented – they start their daily tasks faster in the morning.  This gender difference is significant for both managers and none-managers.   There is no distinction in this finding between leadership and none-leadership roles.

Women score higher on the “emotional” factor – they are more open, and quicker to express their feelings (even in a work context J).  Men are more likely to shield their feelings.

Men are more assertive, but this gender difference disappears when we only look at the subgroup of professionals in leadership roles.  Managers, both men and women, are more assertive than none-managers.

Attitude towards administrative tasks:   attitudes towards finishing details depend on the managerial nature of the position.  Both men and women indicate that they prefer to delegate administrative matters.  None-managers score higher in this factor than managers.

Men are more focused on the end result of their work than women, while women attach more importance to the process.   This gender difference holds in managerial subgroup.

Women in leadership roles want even more freedom to conduct their work then man, and they tend to be more critical towards the hierarchy.  However, the finding is quite opposite for women in none-leadership roles: they appear to be more obedient and rely more on structures.

It is perhaps stating the obvious to say that professionals in leadership roles exhibit a “people management” profile, disregard the gender.  However this is not necessarily self-evident from the data (I’ll come back to the details in the next analysis).  Both female and male managers indicate that they are expected to have a more participative style than none-managers.   Female managers, more than their male counterparts, handle such expectation in a relationship oriented style – they are more involved with their employees’ personal concerns.

For none-managers men score higher on People Management factor, evidently there are more men in line for management positions than women.

Such are the highlights of our findings in gender differences.    We did not find gender differences in factors such as stress management, competitiveness, teamwork, risk attitude (not the same as decision making), directive or controlling management style, dealing with social norm and boundaries.  These factors are marked by individual differences.

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