A case study published by Harvard Business School argues that there are quite a number of things people get wrong about men and women in the work place. The case study looks at the popular myths that have been said about men and women in the past years.
Some of these myths have explained why women lack parity with men, myths such as women negotiate poorly, lack confidence, are too risk-averse, or don’t put in the requisite hours at work. Though they may be some gender differences in the work place, those differences are not rooted in fixed gender traits.
According to the case study, they stem from organizational structures, company practices, and patterns of interaction that position men and women differently creating systematically different experiences for them.
When facing dissimilar circumstances, people respond differently not because of their sex but because of their situations.
The “What Most People Get Wrong about Men and Women” titled case study stated that, meta-analyses show that, on average, the sexes are far more similar in their inclinations, attitudes and skills than popular opinion would have us believe.
Women are believed to be more committed to family than men are. However, research does not support this notion. “Nearly everyone regardless of gender place higher value on their families than on their work”.
Priorities of men and women do not differ that much. The research also shows that what differs more is the treatment mothers and fathers receive when they start a family. Mothers are given a longer maternity leave and support at work, whereas fathers are not expected to talk about being tired and stressed and do not get much of a leave to be with family.
This also applies to the work performed; the research found that women work under a higher resolution microscope than men and because of this their mistakes and failures are scrutinized more carefully and punished more severely.
Because of this some woman tend to hold back and keep their ideas to themselves which is intern seen as lack of confidence in their ideas and themselves.
According to Tinsley and Ely, due to the sex difference narrative, most companies lead to put resources into “fixing” women, which means that women miss out on what they need and what every employee deserves; a context that enables them to reach their potential and maximizes their chances to succeed.
One statement that stood out in the case study is that the solution to these stereotypes and myths is not to fix women and their managers but to fix the conditions that undermine women and reinforce gender stereotypes.
To read more on this topic go to the May–June 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, name of article “What Most People get wrong about Men and Women”.