In a striking reversal of historical patterns, women now represent the majority of university graduates, with more than half a million women joining the labour market in the past three decades, and today, four in 10 workers globally are women. Yet amid all this progress, the number of women in leadership positions and on organisational boards is ridiculously small compared to our male counterparts. We still represent only 6% of senior executives in the largest companies.
The world of business, will never achieve its full potential until it can celebrate a right and proper gender balance. We need to change attitudes of both women and men. We need to understand one another through celebrating and accounting for one another’s differences.
The Complexity of Communication:
“When the weight of stress and pressure becomes toxic and unhealthy, women will talk without thinking and men will act without thinking” - C. Leaf.
The subconscious mind operates at around 400 billion actions per second! - This involves thinking, making choices and building thoughts. Our minds have incredible power!
Developing communication skills can sometimes feel like verbal gymnastics - the question is whether our communication is achieving our intention.
Research shows that the circuits in a woman’s brain between the emotional and memory centres are very active and closely connected to the language centres in the brain. This is why women are said to, speak the language of feelings and emotions and men speak the language of facts, actions and results.
Where a man feels comfortable speaking in headlines, women have the innate desire to tell every detail and express their emotions and they are both okay!
The Male and Female Brains
Some studies show that stress affects particular areas of the brain in completely opposite ways in men and women.
When men are stressed, they tend to withdraw socially and respond with the “fight-or-flight” response. This is because stress decreases activity in brain areas associated with empathy, resulting in less empathy. Men will try and work things out their own way, until they are ready to talk about it.
Women on the other hand under stress, look for emotional support from others, because stress increases the activity in brain regions that deal with empathy and emotional understanding. This releases oxytocin - a bonding chemical which helps to calm us down. This explains why ladies seek to talk through problems with friends and family or to ask for direction when lost and exactly why men withdraw emotionally and will not ask for directions even if they arrive on Mars!
Women in the Workplace
Neuroscience is now playing a significant role in laying to rest many of the myths that surround gender issues in the workplace.
Recent studies have shown that a better balance of genders in management and leadership positions has a positive effect on the economic performance of companies. This is achieved through the recognition that women help to bring a wider range of perspectives to many aspects of the corporate world, i.e. decision making, team building, communication skills, and, very crucially, the ability to listen.
The corporate world is already losing many of the assets which would bring them valuable diversity and balance.
Closing the Gender Gap
Men were more likely overall to be chosen or rated as leaders, in part because they sometimes have more assertive personalities and thus speak up more.
There is a strong business case for balanced diverse boards, because it makes them to understand their employees, customers and stakeholders better and to benefit from fresh perspectives, new ideas, vigorous challenge and broad experience. This in turn leads to better decision making and increased success.
Women should not be asked to change their behaviour as a way of addressing this situation; rather organisations should train employees to change their perspectives.
Organisations must be aware of gender-specific behavioural differences. It’s time for companies to look at the science of brain differences and apply what they learn in the hunt for the best leaders.
The world of business cannot achieve its full potential until it can genuinely value the contributions made by both sexes.
I, now provide Workshops for organisations highlighting the role that neuroscience can play in the development and wellbeing of women in leadership roles.
The workshops cover a wide range of brain-related topics, including confidence, resilience, stress, decision-making, and lifestyle.
I also use a neuroscience-based recruitment tool - PRISM Brain Mapping which is designed to highlight the suitability of candidates, as a means of ensuring that hiring decisions are not only better quality, but also free of gender bias. It also is used by individuals to identify the behavioural preferences that directly relate to personal relationships and work performance.
I believe that environment, genetics and hormones create an individuals brain but, we can adapt our brain and behaviour to embrace each others differences to achieve great success.
A study recently concluded that male and female brains combine features more common in both brains, concluding that human brains do not belong to two distinct types categorised by sex. Which brings me back to my belief that we all can ‘rewire our brains' to achieve high performance and success together.
To find out how Prism can help you or your organisation: contact me here.
To Register for the Empowering Women in Leadership Training Course - CLICK HERE.