• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Are men really from mars and women from venus?

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Today, March 8, 2015, is International Women’s Day. A day set aside to commemorate a visionary roadmap for gender equality adopted by 189 countries about 20years ago. They identified 12 critical areas of concern for women and girls across the globe.

These include ‘reducing women and girls poverty, ensure access to education, training and technical advancement, safeguard their health; sexual and reproductive health, protect from violence and discrimination and promote full and equal participation in society, politics and economy’.

Even though no nation has achieved all the goals, a lot of progress has been made.

Despite all pride and prejudice, women are regarded as global game-changers. The UN Women’s “#HeForShe” campaign which is an initiative for men and boys to stand up and speak out for the human rights of women and girls, attest to that.

Each time I think about the struggles of women to reach full gender equality and equity, I am amazed at the power of women to ensure better lives not just for themselves but for humanity.  As we celebrate today, I dare say that women are “myth busters”. They have dispelled and disproved conceptions that hinder them from realizing their potentials.

Today happens to be one of such days that I sit and ponder. My question is, “Are men really from Mars and women from Venus?”. Taking gender issues in communication for instance, this often rears its ugly head in the work place.

Simms Lieberman, a Diversity and Gender Communication Specialist, asserts ‘that while most women are in the workplace fulltime, there is still bias amongst certain men in leadership roles that stop women from moving ahead. This bias can include;

1. That there is only one style or way to lead and that is the hierarchical one.

2. That most women can’t be leaders because they are not ‘strategic’

3. Because many of these men are married to women who work in the home, they have a harder time conceiving of women running organizations, and therefore are not as objective when making hiring and promotion decisions.

4. There is an unconscious belief that women are not in the workforce on a permanent basis and don’t really want to move up or stay’.

The complexity of gender in communication had been a subject of study through various methods; social scientific, humanistic, critical methods and others.

There are those who believe that women are different, hence their style of communication. Others argue that there are no differences only the styles vary according to conditions at hand.

I am of the opinion that stereotypes exist for a reason. We do not need to create more problems because that is exactly what we do when we emphasize on our differences. We complicate issues when we put people in a box, label them and expect them to fit. By so doing, we limit their potential. When they fail to live true to type, we set ourselves up for confusion, anger and disappointment.

But why do we need to identify gendered communication expectations?

How does gender expectation limit behavior for both men and women?

Do these predominant social assumptions and communication norms devalue and silence women?

How can every one of us become change agents to enhance our lives collectively?

If gender is something a person does and not something a person is, then it should hold potential for personal and social emancipation.

If gender is a social construct which institutions and individuals maintain and sometimes challenge, then why does gender identity oppress and limit some people.

Is communication really gender dependent? Why do female CEOs represent only 3 percent of Fortune 500 Companies?

Sari de la Motte, a non-verbal Intelligence Coach posits that women are socialized to be nice and not bossy, demanding or firm. And yet we know that people with more authoritative voice patterns get promoted more easily and quickly because we perceive them to know what they’re talking about.

Quoting Heather R. Huhman’s  “Forbes” article, ‘How to be a part of the male conversation at work’, Ellie Williams says that women focus more on feelings while men tend to talk about tangible things such as business or sports. In addition, women use communication to gain insight and understanding, often by asking a lot of questions. Men are less likely to ask questions. Rather, they issue directives thereby sending messages of strength. Their women counterparts, issue requests and this is perceived as weakness.

Here are ways a woman can improve gender workplace communication.

1.Be assertive.

2.Speak with conviction.

3.Get to the point.

4.Enhance your listening cues.

5. Improve on your body Language.

Having said that, we can create equality for men and women when we understand that women can bring their relationship-oriented attitude to the work table, it balances the men’s task-oriented attitude and that equals success.

We can only leverage each other’s strength when we learn about male and female styles of communication and use them judiciously. So long as all sexes still co-exist in this planet earth, we must work hard to ensure justice, peace and unity.

As we mark this year’s International Women’s Day, with the theme, “Empowering Women, Empowering humanity, Picture it”, we are once again called upon to put on our gender lens in order to enthrone an egalitarian society.

CHIAMAKA BOBBY-UMEANO