Mars and Venus at Work

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This interview originally aired live on May 15, 2013. An edited version was re-broadcast on September 2, 2013 as part of a special best-of episode for Labor Day.

Author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, John Gray, and workplace gender expert, Barbara Annis, talk about their new book Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business and the likely suspects for gender-based misunderstandings in the workplace.

Excerpt: Work with Me by Barbara Annis and John Gray

Copyright (c) 2013 by the authors and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd


Barbara Annis and John Gray

Comments [27]

JP from London

I'm pretty weirded out by the caller who said that he promotes his "secretaries" to "exec assistants", while he described all his men as "staff." I'm surprised Brian didn't pick up on this discrepancy - why isn't he hiring any female "staff," only female "exec assistants?" And now he wants a medal for letting said secretaries talk in business meetings (which would annoy me if I were a "staff" person - watching my boss showboating by "letting" the secretaries "give their opinion" on matters that are not their area of expertise), when if he were really for equal opportunity, he would hire women for the more prestigious "staff jobs" as well. What a great example of someone who misses the point.

Otherwise, I agree with the other posters who think there is a lot more variation between men and women than what is presented here. A lot of this stuff is culturally specific, and when you look for specific characteristics in people, you tend to find them. I'm sure you could find examples of women liking "problem solving" and men liking "the journey" if you looked. Such arbitrary distinctions.

I can see how this book might help some bosses deal with some employees better, but it also reinforces gender stereotypes in a way that can make working together more difficult. I work in a male dominated field (finance), and I find that one of the biggest problems is with men who assume I'm "just different" than them and therefore "won't understand," so they'd rather just work with another man on a project.

Gender stereotypes are like all other stereotypes (racial, cultural, etc) - they work as an easy shorthand in the workplace where you are coming up against lots of different types of people, but they are also lazy, hamfisted distinctions and can make it difficult to get to know your colleagues on a personal level.

May. 16 2013 03:55 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I agree w/the commenters who say people don't fit these generalizations. I used to have a button that said, "Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it." I lost it awhile back...I think I need to replace it!

May. 16 2013 01:12 AM
The Truth from Becky

Spot on Bexx.

May. 15 2013 12:05 PM
Bexx from NYC

Men control the work place and treat it like the last exclusive club where women should be relugated to secretaries and (as per a previous comment), may be promoted to Exec. Asst. There workplace represents the last remnants of hunter-gathering. ANd in the face of increasing feminism, they double down on "marking" on their space in the workplace.

May. 15 2013 11:43 AM
Mike from LI

My wife is a business executive, and she complains about those things that your guests talking about. However the problem is in the fact that her team is almost women-only, and female bosses behave the same way. IMHO, the problem is oppressive corporate culture, not only in gender relations.

May. 15 2013 11:42 AM
M from brooklyn

this is ridiculous because it says that men have to treat women with tender gloves. it's difficult enough to do so in personal life but why should men have to take that burden to the workplace as well?

May. 15 2013 11:39 AM
pliny from soho

what about the hornyness factor?

May. 15 2013 11:37 AM
The Truth from Becky

That caller doesn't realize that the buzzwords he used, say "I am not comfortable working with women" "my secretaries become admin assistants" REALLY This is a larger problem with white males...I know we are coming to race very soon.

May. 15 2013 11:37 AM
Mia from Manhattan

Both men and women co-workers can be pills.

What I'd really like to hear Brian devote a long segment to would be the working differences of extroverts and introverts, and have on as his guess Susan Cain who wrote the book "Quiet" - that would be a fascinating discussion and help raise awareness among people that the extrovert way is not the only way to do things. Introverts make up somewhere between 40-50% of the population and there needs to be flexibility in how we get work done, not letting the extrovert norm be the only way.

May. 15 2013 11:30 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

This is somewhat of a bizarre conversation to me, personally. I have mostly worked for small companies in the past 20 years, and will say that in gender-mixed environments, I haven't really noticed any differences between the way women and men behave, and I, nor my female co-workers, have never felt marginalized by men.

But I do think that working in smaller, more intimate places, in which everyone has a shared goal, and works on a shared deadline, changes the dynamic of a workplace; I tend not to work in large, corporate environments, and I chose my workplaces partially based on whether or not it seems like a good "home away from home." From what the office looks like - whether it has good light, windows, decent decor - and if my co-workers seem nice and interesting - this makes all the difference in work. Also "knowing" your co-workers or employees, and viewing them as individuals, seems to help people to have a higher level of respect for each other; a little, interested, personal chit chat can go a long way. But beyond that, I also want to solve problems and use my skills and brain - none of the other stuff can really drone out a job in which one doesn't feel utilized.

May. 15 2013 11:30 AM

this type of discussion bothers me because not all men and women fit neatly into these descriptions of how men and women are supposed to act and feel.

May. 15 2013 11:24 AM
Maria from Morningside Hts.

What makes me feel excluded? When men talk over me -- and other women -- as if what they have to say is more important. Happens in the workplace, social gatherings, everywhere that men and women congregate.

May. 15 2013 11:24 AM

What about the way women treat women in the workplace? I think sometimes the way women can devalue each other gets ignored. I worked a job recently and left because over the time I worked there, the woman who was in charge felt so threatened by the other women around her. It's a fallacy that most strong women value other strong women. This is not always the case.

May. 15 2013 11:24 AM
FranciL from Roosevelt Island

I'm curious to know if there's a difference regarding how men and women respond depending on their age, 20-somethings as opposed to 50-somethings, for example.

May. 15 2013 11:22 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

These generalizations about what men like/dislike and what women like/dislike ... is it productive? The feminist movement (Judith Butler, for instance) recognized the problems for all with these simplifications.

BTW, I'm a male enjoys the journey at least as much as the destination. I don't talk sports. I read books (currently David Sedaris and David Harvey). And ...

May. 15 2013 11:22 AM
The Truth from Becky

I don't feel excluded in the work place...I isolate myself from them on purpose.

May. 15 2013 11:20 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Women can commiserate with each other, but men cannot commiserate with other men, unless they get drunk. Women have "permission" to "share" their inner feelings, but men do not. So, if they talk to each other at all, will use sports or something like that, but almost never about what they think, and hardly ever about what they "feel."

May. 15 2013 11:18 AM
The Truth from Becky

Men have a hard time taking instruction from women in the the oldest sibling,two brothers, I am not phased, I still delegate.

May. 15 2013 11:18 AM

Hahaha, for the call in question about what makes me satisfaction about my work:

I feel good when I work with a mother and she feels empowered and capable in how she feeds her infant. I don't really care about the result of how they are doing it (despite all the silliness perpetuated by the media about "breastfeeding Nazis").

Basically I feel good when I know I've done a good job, the rest is irrelevant. The most frustrating thing is when there are people who impede efficacy.

May. 15 2013 11:17 AM
Elaine from BX

My job will send me and my family to dinner when I do something above and beyond (its very satisfying). Additionally, we all work remote, so I do not have regular conversations or connections, however I feel part of the team. I am regularly asked what work I would like to pick up and it feels great to be asked what work I want rather then just be assigned.

May. 15 2013 11:16 AM
Robert from NYC

Why are heterosexuals so messed up?

May. 15 2013 10:54 AM
john from office

Dam, all the good ones are taken! Peg

May. 15 2013 10:51 AM

John, yes I'm married and ancient (great grandmother).

May. 15 2013 10:39 AM
john from office

Peg are you married??

May. 15 2013 10:32 AM

Women also kid around with each other in ways that might offend men. Men who grow up around women do much better in a mixed gender group. Women are good organizers - whether we learned to "hunt with the pack," "defend the camp," manage an intergenerational household, or cooperate with neighbors and workmates.

In my work experience, whiners and offensive people come in all colors, shapes, sizes and sexes. Good workers (actually people) are not defensive, try to compromise and cooperate, are good listeners and make eye contact, do not make too many assumptions ...and laugh and smile a lot.

I grew up in a large family of many boys and girls - we all knew that if we wanted to have that last piece of turkey or pie, we better finish fast and speak up!

May. 15 2013 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Organization" has been a mostly "man" thing since male primates began hunting in bands together. Organizing females is like herding cats. Mixed organizations that place men and women competing for better jobs in the same organization under equal treatment - in theory - gets complicated. Men became used to working in rigid hierarchies, but women much less so. For one thing, men couldn't complain to anyone about "harassment" from competing colleagues, but women can. Increasingly, some women are using the "gender-card" to get their way. And since the present nature of most work today makes it difficult to scientifically measure the actual productivity and value of any given worker to the success of the organization, it is easier to give way and just get rid of the alleged "troublemaker," which might really be the woman making the allegation of harassment. Some unscrupulous and ambitious females have no problem using the gender card to get rid of a male competitor standing in her way.

May. 15 2013 09:35 AM
john from office

in my experience, women are quicker to go to the boss (daddy) regarding any slight, making the office environment less friendly. Women who grow up around brothers tend to do well in a mixed gender group. Men tend to kid around with each other in ways that would easily offend a woman.

May. 15 2013 08:09 AM

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