Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Men Need Women

If you ever wondered what to say to "Why Men Need Women", Adam Grant in the NYtimes has an answer. Apparently, "The mere presence of female family members — even infants — can be enough to nudge men in the generous direction."

In a study by  Michael S. Dahl, Cristian L. Dezso and David Gaddis Ross, "Fatherhood and Managerial Style : How a Male CEO's Children Affect the Wages of His Employees" that appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly.
the abstract reads:

"Motivated by a growing literature in the social sciences suggesting that the transition to fatherhood has a profound effect on men’s values, we study how the wages of employees change after a male chief executive officer (CEO) has children, using comprehensive panel data on the employees, CEOs, and families of CEOs in all but the smallest Danish firms between 1996 and 2006. We find that (a) a male CEO generally pays his employees less generously after fathering a child, (b) the birth of a daughter has a less negative influence on wages than does the birth of a son and has a positive influence if the daughter is the CEO’s first, and (c) the wages of female employees are less adversely affected than are those of male employees and positively affected by the CEO’s first child of either gender. We also find that male CEOs pay themselves more after fathering a child, especially after fathering a son. These results are consistent with a desire by the CEO to husband more resources for his family after fathering a child and the psychological priming of the CEO’s generosity after the birth of his first daughter and specifically toward women after the birth of his first child of either gender."

The Nytimes article then writes about studies by Professor Van Lange

"The data showed that players who made the more generous choices had more siblings. The givers averaged two siblings; the others averaged one and a half siblings. More siblings means more sharing, which seems to predispose people toward giving.

And once again, gender mattered. The givers were 40 percent more likely to have sisters than the people who made more self-serving, competitive choices. (There was no difference in the number of brothers; it was the number of sisters, not siblings, that predicted greater giving.)"

It also points to an article by Roy Baumeister, "Is There Anything Good About Men?" At some point he writes:
"One test of what’s meaningfully real is the marketplace. It’s hard to find anybody making money out of gender differences in abilities. But in motivation, there are plenty. Look at the magazine industry: men’s magazines cover different stuff from women’s magazines, because men and women like and enjoy and are interested in different things. Look at the difference in films between the men’s and women’s cable channels. Look at the difference in commercials for men or for women.

This brings us to an important part of the argument. I’m suggesting the important differences between men and women are to be found in motivation rather than ability. What, then, are these differences? I want to emphasize two."

His first is:

"Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men."..

This leads him to think that

"Tradeoffs again: perhaps nature designed women to seek to be lovable, whereas men were designed to strive, mostly unsuccessfully, for greatness."

His second point is
"Let me turn now to the second big motivational difference. This has its roots in an exchange in the Psychological Bulletin about ten years ago, but the issue is still fresh and relevant today. It concerns the question of whether women are more social than men.

The idea that women are more social was raised by S.E. Cross and L. Madsen in a manuscript submitted to that journal. I was sent it to review, and although I disagreed with their conclusion, I felt they had made their case well, so I advocated publishing their paper. They provided plenty of evidence. They said things like, look, men are more aggressive than women. Aggression could damage a relationship because if you hurt someone then that person might not want to be with you. Women refrain from aggression because they want relationships, but men don’t care about relationships and so are willing to be aggressive. Thus, the difference in aggression shows that women are more social than men. "

He then goes on to say:

"Now consider helping. Most research finds that men help more than women. Cross and Madsen struggled with that and eventually just fell back on the tired cliché that maybe women don’t help because they aren’t brought up to help or aren’t socialized to help. But I think the pattern is the same as with aggression. Most research looks at helping between strangers, in the larger social sphere, and so it finds men helping more. Inside the family, though, women are plenty helpful, if anything more than men."

I wonder about that, I need to read up on that literature, as my friend and coauthor Lise Vesterlund has a very nuanced story on this topic.

Baumeister goes on to say:

"Women specialize in the narrow sphere of intimate relationships. Men specialize in the larger group."

The Nytimes article then talks about

"On this point, the economists James Andreoni at the University of California, San Diego, and Lise Vesterlund at the University of Pittsburgh report evidence that whereas many women prefer to share evenly, “men are more likely to be either perfectly selfish or perfectly selfless.” It may be that meaningful contact with women is one of the forces that tilt men toward greater selflessness."

Adam Grant finishes his piece with:

"We recognize the direct advantages that women as leaders bring to the table, which often include diverse perspectives, collaborative styles, dedication to mentoring and keen understanding of female employees and customers. But we’ve largely overlooked the beneficial effects that women have on the men around them. Is it possible that when women join top management teams, they encourage male colleagues to treat employees more generously and to share knowledge more freely? Increases in motivation, cooperation, and innovation in companies may be fueled not only by the direct actions of female leaders, but also by their influence on male leaders."

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