Gender – a Matter of Culture?

Just to clarify from the beginning: I don’t want to enter the theoretic discussion on what is genetic and what is social learning when we talk of male and female roles and all the other gender definitions that might exist.

What interests me, are practical questions regarding collaboration in a professional context:

  • Some women complain, men would aggressively dominate discussions.
  • I was asked to develop workshops on assertiveness for young woman specialists to stand up to their male colleagues.
  • The discussion goes as far as dress codes, where women tend to wear man-like clothes in business, to be on eye level with men.

Behind all these questions is a strange believe, that male behaviour was first and the majority in business, and that’s why women have to adapt. Nonsense!

And, yes, being strong, dynamic and convincing is an important element in professional collaboration. But there are many ways to be strong or to convince beyond sheer aggression and powerplays. I think this has a lot to do with the entrepreneurial culture and everybody should participate in creating an atmosphere of fairness and positive competition.

Assertiveness has a lot to do with the way we look at ourselves: Do I accept myself, the way I am? Do I know my personal strengths and shortcomings? Do I take ownership of my development? 

And then I have to ask myself, if it makes sense to compare myself with certain role models. Unfortunately we still have many male role models in business. And women are much more exposed to judgements on how they should look like. Though men are catching up in this stupid race for beauty. For everybody it’s a long way to develop a personal culture that suits them best: Be yourself. This is sometimes not easy and a very important learning process, especially for younger people.

Regarding dress code you can observe interesting differences from country to country. High heels and miniskirts are usually rare on top-level in Germany – though the photo above is from a German ICE-train. I’ve seen this kind of attire more often in France or Spain. Ties for sure, but even suits are slowly dying out, as it seems. This means there is more choice – to dress badly. I think, you should look good, kempt and most of all appropriate to you, your peers and the topic you are responsible for. 

Maybe by and by we create an open and international culture of joyful, open and unbiased collaboration, where it’s most of all the best idea, that counts!

NB: In all the assessments taht I have seen over many years, there is no preference for any colour of the 3D-Behaviour-Method between men and women.