Share via Email Do men and women speak the same language? Can they ever really communicate? These questions are not new, but since the early s there has been a new surge of interest in them. Countless self-help and popular psychology books have been written portraying men and women as alien beings, and conversation between them as a catalogue of misunderstandings.
Advice on how to bridge the communication gulf between the sexes has grown into a flourishing multimedia industry. These explain that the gulf between men and women is a product of nature, not nurture.
The sexes communicate differently and women do it better because of the way their brains are wired.
The female brain excels in verbal tasks whereas the male brain is better adapted to visual-spatial and mathematical tasks. Women like to talk; men prefer action to words. Writers in this vein are fond of presenting themselves as latter-day Galileos, braving the wrath of the political correctness lobby by daring to challenge the feminist orthodoxy that denies that men and women are by nature profoundly different.
Simon Baron-Cohen, the author of The Essential Difference, explains in his introduction that he put the book aside for several years because "the topic was just too politically sensitive".
In the chapter on male-female differences in his book about human nature, The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker congratulates himself on having the courage to say what has long been "unsayable in polite company".
Both writers stress that they have no political axe to grind: Yet before we applaud, we should perhaps pause to ask ourselves: Certainly not since the early s, when the previous steady trickle of books began to develop into a raging torrent.
By now, a writer who announces that sex-differences are natural is not "saying the unsayable": The idea that men and women "speak different languages" has itself become a dogma, treated not as a hypothesis to be investigated or as a claim to be adjudicated, but as an unquestioned article of faith.
Our faith in it is misplaced. Like the scientists I have mentioned, I believe in following the evidence where it leads. But in this case, the evidence does not lead where most people think it does. If we examine the findings of more than 30 years of research on language, communication and the sexes, we will discover that they tell a different, and more complicated, story.
The idea that men and women differ fundamentally in the way they use language to communicate is a myth in the everyday sense: But it is also a myth in the sense of being a story people tell in order to explain who they are, where they have come from, and why they live as they do.
Whether or not they are "true" in any historical or scientific sense, such stories have consequences in the real world. They shape our beliefs, and so influence our actions.
The myth of Mars and Venus is no exception to that rule. For example, the workplace is a domain in which myths about language and the sexes can have detrimental effects.
A few years ago, the manager of a call centre in north-east England was asked by an interviewer why women made up such a high proportion of the agents he employed.
Did men not apply for jobs in his centre? The manager replied that any vacancies attracted numerous applicants of both sexes, but, he explained: What we find is that women can do this more More jobs are now in the service than the manufacturing sector, and service jobs, particularly those that involve direct contact with customers, put a higher premium on language and communication skills.
Male job applicants have to prove that they possess the necessary skills, whereas women are just assumed to possess them. But it is not only men who stand to lose because of the widespread conviction that women have superior verbal skills.
Someone else who thinks men and women are naturally suited to different kinds of work is Baron-Cohen. In The Essential Difference he offers the following "scientific" careers advice: People with the male brain make the most wonderful scientists, engineers, mechanics, technicians, musicians, architects, electricians, plumbers, taxonomists, catalogists, bankers, toolmakers, programmers or even lawyers.
The female-brain jobs make use of a capacity for empathy and communication, whereas the male ones exploit the ability to analyse complex systems.The difference between sex and gender is that sex refers to our biological and physiological traits, whereas gender refers to the roles society assigns people based on their sex.
Gender discrimination occurs when there is a bias based on a person's sex, and that leads to defining the roles that he or she should play in society. The idea that men and women differ fundamentally in the way they use language to communicate is a myth in the everyday sense: a widespread but false belief.
UN Women Deputy Director and Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri moderated a panel discussion on “Countering Gender Discrimination and Negative Gender Stereotypes: Effective Policy Responses during the Coordination Segment of the Substantive Session of ECOSOC in Geneva, 13 July He pointed out that the “habit of language.
- gender involves social power: Our society gives men greater freedom in personal behavior and allows them to use more space than women do - language also reflects the social dominance of males - reinforces/ transmits conventional gender roles/differences (norms).
differences between men and women. Significant differences are highlighted below: sex is a learning the language use and actual use occur. Therefore, the language itself reflects the social of gender discrimination in countries characterized by femininity, in which blurred differences lead to.
The idea that men and women differ fundamentally in the way they use language to communicate is a myth in the everyday sense: a widespread but false belief. But it is also a myth in the sense of being a story people tell in order to explain who they are, where they have come from, and why they live as .