Gender Differences: Mars & Venus in the Workplace

Gender Differences Mars vs VenusGender differences being what they are, people do things that make sense to them.

Both men and women are trying to do the right thing, but by two different sets of rules that define what right is based on their gender differences.  It is not about rights or wrongs, good or bad, or Mars versus Venus.  It is simply about difference.  We also see gender differences in both emotional intelligence and leadership styles between men and women, which can have a profound impact on one’s career advancement.

            Men and women live in different cultures.  It starts at birth and carries into adulthood.  Men and women play by different rules and there are some key differences between the genders.  Let’s take a look at how children play.  Boys play games centered on conflict and competition (think race cars, cops and robbers, or any sports).  In these games, boys learn how to win and lose, get to a goal, take risks, and play with people they do not like.  In contrast, girls play games centered on relationships and getting along with no conflict (think tea parties, dolls, or dress up). In these games, girls learn how to negotiate, avoid conflict, and do what is fair for all with an even distribution of power.

As adults, we carry these lessons into the workplace in the way we work within a structure, hold meetings, work in teams, the different ways we talk, and in how we lead others.  For example, let us examine how gender differences affect organizational structure.  Men prefer to work in a hierarchical structure.  This structure is both goal-focused and linear-focused, with a directive communication style.  Women prefer to work in a flat structure that is process-focused and multi-faceted.  Talking it over through discussion and involvement is the preferred communication style in a flat structure.

Second, the way men and women conduct meetings is very different.  Men tend to get their “ducks in a row” and build alignment before the meeting, so when the meeting actually occurs, the substantial part of the meeting has already happened.  Women, in sharp contrast, bring their ideas and discussion points to the meeting expecting to dialog with everyone involved, but unbeknownst to her, the meeting has already occurred.

As you might imagine, these gender differences can lead to very different perceptions of men and women in the workplace.  Just as we cannot expect the same behavior from everyone, we cannot communicate with or lead everyone in the same way.  By having an awareness of these differences, it can have a significant impact on your success as a trainer, as well as your organization’s ability to manage their employee’s talent.

Contact me today to discuss how I can help you build an effective, gender-balanced team of managers and leaders at