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Featured Post: Female and Male Culture Shock

  • September 18, 2009

by Andrés Tapia –

In a moment I will share with you some short and terrific video clips that capture the compelling voice of Tammy Hughes, president of the Heim Group, a business management consulting firm specializing in workplace training on gender differences.

But to get the most out of the clips, let me set the stage first.

The Inclusion Paradox means that our differences are real no matter what dimension of our identities we are dealing with. And despite the very real changes in gender roles and attitudes in the past generation, gender is still no exception. Not that there hasn’t been progress in the advancement and view of women as professionals and leaders, but it’s still helpful to think of gender differences in terms of culture: female culture and male culture.

To create sustainable inclusion strategies I believe organizations must address both issues of power and issues of cultural differences.  This also applies when looking at gender in the workplace.

The issues of power in workplace gender dynamics are well documented and it’s where sexism lives and also where preferred ways of doing things are entrenched, making it difficult for women to be included in the informal corridors of power — like at the golf links — where influence happens and decisions get made. There are various best practice approaches intended to address the power dimension such as mentoring, network groups for emerging women leaders, and CEO sponsorship of increasing the representation of women in the succession pool.

As important as these are — and as much as there is still to do to maximize the impact of these approaches — even if pursued at full tilt, they will not be enough to shatter the glass ceiling.

We  must also be culturally competent enough to understand the very real ways in which men and women in some fundamental ways, archetypically, operate with different worldviews.  And so misunderstandings and judgments are bound to erupt — even among those who authentically are not holding women back due to power issues.

My Hewitt colleague, Sandy Miller, who is a senior consultant and with whom I’ve co-designed a workshop we call “The Role of Power and Gender Culture in Executive Interactions,”  puts it this way: “So much of what we see in the workplace between men and women is that each group is judging the other due to these differences. We must get beyond judging our differences as either good or bad and instead learn how to navigate through them and, better yet, get the most out of them.”

So let’s hear Tammy explain it both scientifically and from organizational observation. These clips, used here by permission of the Heim Group, were filmed during Tammy’s keynote at Hewitt during the 2009 Women’s History Month celebration in March.

1.Tammy Hughes on male/female differences around the world 1:47mins

2. Tammy Hughes on gender differences in verbal communication 3:07mins

3. Tammy Hughes on Gender Differences in Leadership 1:52 mins

I hope you enjoyed the clips. 

The mindset Tammy presents shifts us from the traditional Battle of the Sexes mentality to a mindset of men and women really being on the same team. Rather than having male/female differences become a point of one-up/one-down, a source of frustration, or one-dimensional stereotyping, our different gender culture approaches can become something we seek out in one another in order to make better business and leadership decisions.

For more on what organizations need to do to create a more inclusive environment for the advancement of women leaders, see this excerpt from The Inclusion Paradox titled, “Women in Leadership: Why Curent Best Practices Will Not Be Enough to Shatter the Glass Ceiling.”

How do you see women and men making unique contributions to the workplace and marketplace due to their different worldviews?

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