The Androgynous Mindset
Business Week (somewhat) recently explored the slump in the male economy. From last November through this April, American women gained nearly 300,000 jobs while American men lost nearly 700,000. Why?
There are plenty of sound explanations for the moment, but I’d prefer to look ahead at why women increasingly seem better poised for today’s employment market. In Daniel Pink’s brilliant book, A Whole New Mind, he argues that a holistic, whole-brained business approach is essential to success in today’s hyper-competitive global economy. He investigates the role of left & right brain against gender, and his findings are nicely round-up in this interview excerpt:
Q: In A Whole New Mind, you tend to refer to people as “she.” Do you feel that globalization highlights the role of women? Do you also mean to imply that the androgynous side of the human spirit has some sort of advantage in the new economy?
Pink: There is lots of evidence that people with more androgynous minds that can reason both in a typically “left-brain,” masculine way and a typically “right-brain,” feminine way have a comparative advantage in the modern economy. I think that a lot of the abilities that are often dismissed as “feminine” or “soft”—things like empathy, to some extent even creativity itself—are more valuable nowadays, and that might confer a slight advantage on women. But I think that the future does belong to people with androgynous minds, people who have that analytical capability but people who also have that artistic, empathic ability.
Working women have historcially been forced to adopt the androgynous mind. North American Business has always been driven by typically-masculine thinking, not to mention the fact that it’s still largely run by old boys. Most guys, on the other hand, have probably never needed to embrace a feminine mindset in a working environment. So I suspect many are not adjusting well to the call for change. But with women now our best customers – and their emotional, right-brained qualities increasingly critical in today’s global economy – it’s an outlook we’d better start opening up to.