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The 8 Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business

Palgrave Macmillan,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Men and women can understand how the opposite sex thinks, acts, speaks and works.

Editorial Rating



  • Background


John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, and Barbara Annis, an expert on gender inclusiveness, discuss “gender blind spots” that generate friction between men and women at work. The authors distributed 100,000 surveys to employees in 60 Fortune 500 companies. They found that women are not as satisfied with their professional lives as men. Women feel excluded from advancement, undervalued and unappreciated. Men say women ask too many questions, take criticism personally and become emotional. The authors advise companies to cultivate “gender intelligence” so men and women can accept and acknowledge their differences as strengths. Even though some of Gray’s and Annis’s advice is obvious common sense, getAbstract recommends these findings to executives seeking an inclusive workplace and to HR professionals who struggle to retain talented employees, especially women.


Men and Women Are Not the Same

Many talented people quit their jobs or run into professional difficulties because they don’t understand how to work with the opposite sex. Women and men stereotype each other, causing misunderstanding and miscommunication. With a little “gender intelligence,” both sexes can recognize how the differences between them are actually strengths.

Many businesses have promoted “gender equality” to stop future problems, but that forces men and women to “act the same.” Such “sameness” is the biggest obstacle to improved communication and understanding. When women and men express themselves naturally, companies benefit from a broader perspective, and overall performance improves.

Since 1982, the majority of US college graduates have been women. Since 2009, women have earned more doctoral degrees than men. Now half the US workforce, women still find that workplaces are male dominated. Since the 1980s, women have held half of all middle-management positions in Fortune 500 companies, yet few women reach executive-level positions. Today in the US, they hold fewer than 20% executive-rank jobs.

Companies today also fear...

About the Authors

Barbara Annis works as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies specializing in Gender Intelligence. Therapist John Gray wrote Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

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    S. L. 5 years ago
    This book seems to be composed of a number of gender stereotypes, and centres on the results of employee surveys generated by the authors, who already have a long, published history of firm beliefs in intrinsic, innate brain differences between men and women (and who therefore arguably cannot be said to be unbiased).

    Conclusive scientific findings about sex-linked brain differences have simply not materialised. G. Rippon lucidly expounds this in 'The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience That Shatters The Myth Of The Female Brain' (2019)

    It's worth noting that a famous study that's widely trotted out as 'conclusive proof' men and women's brains are different, was comprised of just 21 men and 27 women. (R. J. Haier et al. NeuroImage 25, 320–327; 2005). Not exactly a scientific mic-drop by any standards.

    My view is that Gray & Annis' book, along with others of their ilk, is aimed at solving problems, but functions mostly to entrench a set of beliefs and behaviours that men and women are socialised into from birth. Beliefs like 'Guys don't listen', and 'Women are nurturing', which inevitably become self-fulfilling prophecies through subtle (and often not-so-subtle) social rewards and punishments.

    These are meted out to children and young people who desire to 'fit in' and gain approval from peers and adults. A 3 year old girl who is laughed at and excluded by her playmates for playing with trucks when 'Trucks are for boys' is more than likely to head back towards more socially-acceptable toys in future. We can all think of examples of how this happens in adulthood - men opening up to their mates about their feelings etc.

    Anyway, this has turned into a lengthy comment, but basically, my desire is for more business literature to focus on how we can let go of these harmful, strait-jacketing stereotypes, rather than reinforce them.
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    K. P. 7 years ago
    Wow! Perfect! Hope the academic research carried out to write this book fully validate the situation so the author's literature review is based on solid research. I learnt a lot... thanks

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