Nature or Nurture?

15 Jan

I’ve always been a sucker for “Freakonomics” type books, and I recently read one that, frankly, opened my eyes quite a bit. Titled, “The Why Axis,” this book is all about the data behind certain myths. And, the authors tackled one of the biggest myths out there: Women aren’t as competitive as men.

The idea that women are inherently less competitive as men is something I’ve wondered about ever since my first child was born. She is EXTRAORDINARILY competitive, to the point she will make anything a competition: who can eat dinner fastest? Who can run to the car first? Who can beat up our little brother the best? (I’m kidding about this one).images (2)

Anyway, the authors conducted study after study and found that, yes, in nearly all societies, women behave in a less-competitive way than men. However, all their studies were done in patriarchal societies where women were TAUGHT to be less-competitive.

So, off they went in search of a matriarchal society, and, gosh darned it, they found one. One tribe in Africa (I can’t remember the name) is so female-driven that men, literally, can’t drive! They can’t handle money, and they have to have all their decisions approved by their women relatives.

You can guess what happened when the authors focused their studies there. Turns out, the WOMEN in this society scored higher on competitive scales then the men…way higher!

The conclusion: Women aren’t born less-competitive, but they tend to BE less-competitive due to societal pressures.

It got me thinking about the mediation room. Have I ever “assumed” a female party will be less-likely to fight for what she wants? Do I ever “assume” she will be less-competitive than another, male, party?

I, for one, won’t make that mistake again. Instead, I’ll do my best to take the “societal” pressures out of the mediation room and let both parties be as competitive as they were born to be!


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