I was listening to NPR’s On Point the other day and the topic was why there were not more women running Fortune 500 companies. They had on an expert who had just written a book, of course, with her theories and explanations. Many people called in with various comments, theories and suggestions but nobody had the simple revelation that men and women simply think and do things differently. It doesn’t mean that either is right or wrong or better or worse. Just think in your own lives – those you know of the opposite gender. You can come up with a multitude of examples of how they did something in a way that just astounds you - which you can’t comprehend. John Gray was right with the whole Venus-Mars thing. I racked my brain and came up with one reason why 95% of men occupy the top spots in companies. Men have an innate need to be on top. I’m not sure if this has a genetic or evolutionary component to it, but they like to be above everyone else in order to feel successful and fulfilled.
Women, generally don’t have that strong need to be number one, but they have a stronger need to feel desired. I don’t just mean in a sexual manner but a need for the people around them to think they are needed, respected, and wanted. On the other hand, a man doesn’t necessarily need compliments to feel superior. He needs to show off his prowess and in business this is done either through sports, such as golf or through normal business life, such as besting a co-worker in front of a boss.
Imagine a split picture - on the one side a giant mountain of people with one man standing on top in triumph, while on the other side is a woman surrounded by a group of people telling her she’s smart, looks great, is a terrific mother, wife, boss, colleague, human being, etc. It’s not that men don’t crave the same desire for validation or that women don’t have an aggressive drive to be the top dog but their core modus operandi are different. And that’s okay.
The other issue is that men and women manage people differently. Women have had to bow to the way men do things in order to get ahead. Now that women make up 50% of middle management positions female leaders can now manage their own way, but they have to figure out a means to convince or train the men under them to go along. And since men aren’t as savvy when it comes to changing behaviors and attitudes or how they do things, it will be difficult for women to take the reins of business. Once women figure that out I believe there will be far more women running corporate America. Women are as cutthroat as men but they are also more collaborative and work better in groups. Men tend to work more alone and manage with a more aggressive style. And just as a bunch of men trying to get on top can be ugly, a gaggle of women all trying to be the one that is more desired than all the others can be just as or even uglier. Men come out physically bloody. Women come out emotionally bludgeoned.
I think it’s just a matter of time that the majority of companies will be run by women. All businesses will have daycare or child care as part of their systems of management so kids are near where their parents work so women can have it all. More husbands will be primary childcare givers but work itself will be done more organically – 9-5 work days/5 days a week will be gone. People will work a few hours here and few hours there that fit in with their overall lives. Of course, there will still be workaholics but that’s an issue for another time.