Friday, July 17, 2009

Gender Irrelevant in Business?

I have been in many a debate on gender issues. Some of the topics debated are "Are men better managers than women?" and "Do men find it difficult to work under female bosses?"

My initial response was that gender is irrelevant to business, but after reading an article by Kevin Hogan and watching a video interview with SellingPower publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner and former CSO Mary Delaney discussing this issue “Men are Better at Selling than Women” I have been forced to rethink the issue.

Take a look at the video below:

Kevin Hogan in an article titled "Women Ruin Men's Ability To Think" points to a study that shows that only those men higher in testosterone are likely to fall prey to overt sexual distractions.

Men who's ring finger is as long or longer than their index finger are high in testosterone. (This is a pretty useful piece of information when you start to think about it!!)

Now, you might think that women are affected by men in much the same way.

Well, you might think that but only if you are a man.

Very few women are distracted by men.

In fact, the research shows we are about as distracting as a tree or rock.

Men about to play a financial game were shown images of sexy women or lingerie.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society B study found they were more likely to accept unfair offers than men not been exposed to the alluring images.

The suggestion is that the sexual cues distract the men's thoughts, preventing them from focusing on their task - particularly among those with high natural testosterone levels.

The University of Leuven researchers gave 176 heterosexual male student volunteers aged 18 to 28 financial games to test their fair play.

But first, half the men were shown sexual cues of some kind.

One group of 44 men were given pictures to rate; some were shown landscapes while the rest were shown attractive women.

Another group, of 37 men, were either asked to assess the quality, texture and colour of a bra or a t-shirt.

And a third group of 95 were shown either pictures of elderly women or young models.

Each group was then paired up to play a game where the men had $10, a proposer had to suggest a split, and the other man accepted or rejected the offer.

If the second man accepted the offer, the money was distributed in agreement with the offer. If he rejected it, neither partner got anything.

The game is designed as a lab model of hunting or food sharing situations.


The men's performance in the tests showed those who had been exposed to the "sexual cues" were more likely to accept an unfair offer than those who were not.

The men's testosterone levels were also tested - by comparing the length of the men's index finger compared to their ring finger.

If the ring finger is longer, it indicates a high testosterone level.

The researchers found that men in the study who had the highest levels performed worst in the test, and suggest that is because they are particularly sensitive to sexual images.

Dr Siegfried DeWitte, one of the researchers who worked on the study, said: "We like to think we are all rational beings, but our research suggests ... that people with high testosterone levels are very vulnerable to sexual cues.

"If there are no cues around, they behave normally. But if they see sexual images they become impulsive."

He added: "It's a tendency, but these people are not powerless to fight it. "Hormone levels are one thing, but we can learn to deal with it."

The researchers are conducting similar tests with women. But so far, they have failed to find a visual stimulus which will affect their behavior.

Dr George Fieldman, principal lecturer in psychology at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, told the BBC News website: "The fact men are distracted by sexual cues fits in to evolutionary experience. It's what they are expected to do.

"They are looking for opportunities to pass on their genes."

He said the study confirmed what had been suspected by many.

"If a man is being asked to choose between something being presented by an attractive woman and an ugly man, they might not be as dispassionate as they could be."

Your take on this?

This article was first published on

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