As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Business

As a woman in business, there is one topic I avoid addressing. Namely, women in business. Crazy, I know. Cowardly, too. But I’d rather focus on doing the best job I can, than arguing that my gender might make me different, or better, or handicapped, or special.

But it’s nice to see a male journalist picking up the cause, as Brent Bowers did today in The New York Times. The article “Men are from Mars, Women are from Business“, asserts that women, especially mothers, are programmed to succeed in small business. Mr. Bowers contends:

  • That women are better listeners.
  • Consequently, they pick up details and nuances men often miss.
  • They are more active networkers.
  • They are better motivators.
  • Having to juggle home and workplace duties, they are better multi-taskers.
  • They are more patient, and thus better able to stick to long-term strategies.
  • They are more tenacious. Men can be pretty dogged, but not a single one, to my knowledge, has had to endure childbirth.

I read that list and said “Check, check check.” Those are precisely the same skills it takes to spend all day with a toddler (or live with a teenager). You get through it by having a long term view, being resourceful, focussed, observant, and patient in the face of adversity and slow progress. Sadly, the writer does a lousy job in supporting his claims–he mainly surfaces the example of a single female entrepreneur whose life story, frankly, gives me the willies. But I still appreciated the basic thrust of the article. (I do wonder, though, if the only people who “buy” these type of articles are women.)

At the end of the day, the main gender differences that bother me are: that men in business spend too much energy covering up for what they don’t know and that women spend too much energy making up for what they don’t know. Makes me wonder what positive observations other people might have, in this vein. What do men do distinctly well, and where are women excelling, in your experience?

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