What “makes” us different?

“Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.”
Lois Wyse 1926-2007
(American Advertising Executive and Author)

Do you think that’s true?

After reading an article earlier this week on parents in Afghanistan who dress/groom their daughters like boys so those daughters can get an education and go out in public, I’ve been pondering the ways we mess with gender expectations. I know that God created male and female alike enough to work and relate well together and different enough to be necessary (and interesting, I might add). I’ve never been one to say that men and women are “the same.”

Then I ran into the above statement in a book I’m reading about Lee Harper’s To Kill a Mockingbird and it got me to thinking about it some more. (The whole chapter in Matt Litton’s The Mockingbird Parables about the character named Scout and how she does not fit the stereotype of a proper little girl was pleasantly thought-provoking. If you are a fan of Lee’s original or the Gregory Peck movie, I’d recommend this book as an interesting conversation about a great work of literature.)

I hear myself — especially when I’m working in the context of Wycliffe USA’s Senior Leadership Team where I’m one female among males — using language that is so different from my colleagues. I’m far more likely, for instance, to use qualifying statements before declaring my opinion or what I would say is the solution or answer or direction we should take.

How did I learn that?  Is this about how I’m wired by God or is this about how my culture has taught me to function? No answers. Rarely answers, really. But I’m enjoying the questions.

3 thoughts on “What “makes” us different?

  1. Dorothea Lander says:

    Hey, Ruth!
    Sometimes I read articles on the Microsoft business site and this one sort of touches on what you are saying about qualifying or softening your statements in a discussion…maybe you naturally collaborate.

    From the article, “Six tips for bridging the communication gap”
    by Joanna L. Krotz from Microsoft Business at http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-us/resources/management/leadership-training/women-vs-men-6-tips-for-bridging-the-communication-gap.aspx#tipsforbridgingthecommunicationgap

    Men and women impose authority differently. “Women tend to be more collaborative in the workplace, putting relationships first,” says Roz Usheroff, a business trainer and author of “Customize Your Career.” “Men routinely challenge and expect to be challenged.” Each often finds the other’s style ineffective or insulting. Women see men as ham-fisted or insecure when they come on so strong. Men think women lack confidence or conviction because they work hard to get buy-in. Neither, of course, is accurate. To jump the divide, borrow a bit from the other’s style. Men can try a more collaborative approach. Women need to take over more often.

    Just a thought I came across…the guys in the room with you, though…how could they NOT appreciate your style? 🙂

  2. Tammy says:

    On the eve of my first presentation to a group of men years ago, I asked Dave, “What advice do you have for me?” I’ll never forget his words: “Tell them the bottom line first and then support it. ” Ever so disappointed that I could no longer build momentum, showing the bottom line was an obvious reasonable conclusion, I relented. Yes, the work was accepted and complimented…but no satisfaction was felt by this presenter! :]

    • Ruth Hubbard says:

      This is one I have to remember often because it’s not my natural way either. I want to bring people along for the journey, not show them the journey after we arrive. 🙂

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