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Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business Hardcover – August 25, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Using a hefty helping of neurobiology, corporate moguls Gurian and Annis illustrate how brain chemistry influences gender and how gender in turn powerfully affects every aspect of workplace behavior. The authors contend that corporations attentive to gender and behavior can enhance their performance, competitive edge and bottom line. The authors discuss how men and women wield leadership, bond, regard and execute authority and approach management and conflict resolution skills—applying their findings on male/female brain differences to account for the variations in behavior. Though they tackle the big questions—for instance, do women have to become men to get ahead?—they are at their best when at their most practical, using step-by-step instructions, exercises and simply worded GenderTools to teach men and women to understand each other in meetings and on the golf course. Though a front-loaded density of neuroscience may deter the casual browser, readers with a genuine interest and a desire to improve workplace gender relations will do well with this pragmatic and well-intentioned guide. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Consultants Gurian (brain science specialist) and Annis (specialist in workplace gender issues) bring together theory and practical ideas for corporations seeking new understanding of men and women in the workplace. In part 1, we learn about the science of the brain; while equally intelligent, men and women do show differences in brains, and as a result, men and women function differently. Part 2 uses specific tools for integrating gender into the workplace, including improving negotiating, communication, and conflict-resolution skills for both men and women as they work together. Part 3 evaluates how a company balances its male and female leaders, noting that attention to gender issues positively impacts financial results and leads to human capital gains. This is not a difficult book to read, and the effective use of case studies, scientific studies, and exercises provides thoughtful insight into the ongoing challenges of gender issues in corporations. This excellent book will appeal to a wide range of library patrons. --Mary Whaley
Top customer reviews
1. The authors say they have a groundbreaking work that is irrefutable, because science. In actuality, they take dubious studies (tiny sample sizes, not replicated), employ faulty reasoning to draw wild inferences, and use this as evidence for gendered stereotypes (e.g., males prefer activities that involve tossing an object around and males shut down their emotions) and other wild conclusions (e.g., women "remember better" and are more intuitive than men - these are based on their "findings" that women have larger hippocampi and generally a thicker corpus callosum than do men).
2. The authors give some tips on how to use their "scientific" knowledge of male/female differences in the workplace. The authors divide this into 2 parts - tips on what you can do now, and tips on long term applications.
Researchers often conduct studies with small sample sizes and limited other resources to see if there is something worth investigating in that area. Many want to know if they can obtain grant funding, how best to approach a study (what kind of resources to commit, what kind of methods to use, etc), and if they will be published so they conduct studies like this. The media reports such research if it has some exciting finding, but until the findings are further investigated (e.g., replicated in studies with larger sample sizes to see if they generalize to large populations), the findings are only interesting and not too meaningful. The authors of this book take such potentially meaningless findings and tout them as "hard science," saying things like there are distinctly male and female brains. Their evidence is clearly cherry picked, though, as there aren't many, if any, corroborating studies and there even exist studies that counter the studies cited in this book (e.g., that there is no distinctly male or female brain, but rather, human brains are generally mosaics of purportedly male and female neurological traits).
All in all, my impression is that this book is a collection of sexist conclusions backed by largely unrelated data. Much of the data seems cherry picked (e.g., that women have 15 to 20 percent more cerebral blood flow, but importantly, no context is given!) and much data seemingly cannot be interpreted validly (e.g., thicker corpus callosum in women means... more inductive thinking in women!?).
If I ignore the attempts to throw science-y details and fancy words like "corpus callosum," I am left with generalizations in the form of tales of individuals and in the form of bullet points backed by the words "our research shows that...". Many stereotypical statements regarding gender are present, but with the addition of "convincing neurological evidence." Such evidence is questionable so the stereotypical statements are just stereotypical statements accompanied by nice words, and with this in mind, much of the book is just sexist ramblings.
I approached this book with curiosity, but my impression is that it turned out to be an enormous waste of time. Not only do the authors spew stereotypes and ridiculous generalizations, but they purport to use "hard science" to back up their claims. It's difficult to believe that anyone with such credentials would put out a work such as this. I regret spending time and money obtaining and reading this book.
To think that this self-styled "philosopher," WITHOUT ANY MEDICAL OR SCIENTIFIC TRAINING, could go on publishing this junk!! Someone must put a stop to Michael Gurian and his absurd "brain-based" claims about gender differences. The real data on sex differences in the human brain are much more subtle and of no known behavioral signficance.
If women have trouble as leaders it is because our society still unconsciously associates the word "leader" with "male." So women need to sidestep in all these careful ways to get their point across and encourage others to follow them without appearing pushy or unfeminine.
Ah, but if we tell people it's all "hardwired," then we don't have to change our stereotypes--or our power structure!
Cheryl Alexander Stearns www.cherylalexander.com