Is there anything more disruptive to the workplace than hormones? I mean, I’m all for equal opportunity, but someone needs to play devil’s advocate, acknowledge the elephant in the room and be the voice of reason in the whole gender-workforce debate.
Basic biological facts can’t be ignored in hiring practices, and if the practice of hiring based on merit happens to favour women, well, we all just have to accept that it’s the nature of the beast.
Face it. Testosterone and work just don’t mix.
We all know women are inherently stronger collaborators than men, and collaboration is what makes humans the dominant species.
Leaders (and anyone with administrative responsibility) must be good multitaskers to manage multiple balls in the air, and employees with (excuse the pun) balls are, let’s face it, prone to the single-minded approach.
Studies show that men struggle to walk and talk at the same time, while menstruating women have no such issue. It’s only logical that the complex tasks of leadership should fall to women.
Studies also demonstrate that testosterone breeds overconfidence and lack of reflection, leading to mistakes and inaccuracies (your irrational gut instincts are not a good substitute for double checking your work, boys!).
Not to mention, testosterone-fuelled competition simply gets in the way of getting things done! How is anyone supposed to focus when male co-workers are determined to show you up rather than work with you.
And don’t get me started on risk taking. Men are, by far, winning the competition for gender with the most Darwin Awards. Should they really be operating heavy machinery? Should they be in charge of health and safety?
We need reasonable risk assessment in dangerous workplaces and women, biologically determined to make sure toddlers reach adulthood, are far better qualified for the task.
And while it might be politically incorrect to say so, let’s be real, there are a lot of red blooded heterosexual women in the workforce. The presence of men in suits, with their styled hair and cologne and confidant strutting, is just not conducive to productivity. How are people supposed to stay on task with men providing such distractions?
Not to mention, these men are more biologically inclined to make first moves in the mating game, and are, as such, sexual harassment suits waiting to happen.
Imagine half the office quietly filing away all your little disagreements, mistakes or inconvenient opinions as evidence of your inherent unfitness
Perhaps if men dressed and behaved more like women, and kept the flirtations out of the office, they would be less of a liability, but it seems that making this change is just too much for them.
Alright. You get the point. None of this, I hope it’s clear, is my own genuine opinion. It’s fun to play in a world where stereotypically feminine strengths are esteemed and women’s right to the workforce is prioritised over men’s – men enjoy the reverse in their lived experience, so I feel it’s more than fair to indulge in brief satirical fantasies.
But I do understand it’s not pleasant when people take a bit of science and stir in a heap of gendered assumption to your particular disadvantage. Women understand this. We live it.
It is still a commonly held belief (by 54 per cent of office workers according to a UK Expert Market survey) that women’s behaviour in the workplace is “dictated by hormones”.
This, of course, alludes to monthly fluctuations in oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone experienced by menstruating women, the implication being that hormones override our rationality (though, as evidenced by the recent US election, discriminatory hysteria over periods is even extended to post-menopausal women).
So men, if the above satire (which has no real impact on your career) made you feel maligned, imagine half the office quietly filing away all your little disagreements, mistakes or inconvenient opinions as evidence you’re inherently unfit for work, reinforcing entrenched notions on the “deficits” of your entire gender.
Two can play at framing natural sex hormones as a practical disadvantage though, as I hope my tirade against testosterone demonstrates. But realistically, while certain traits are statistically more common in men or women, science only has the vaguest idea of how hormones really influence behaviour, and there are always exceptions. My Dad, for example, is one of the most cautious people I know. The best multitasker I ever hired was a man. Plenty of successful women thrive on competition.
Culturally constructed gender roles and individual upbringing also play a role in how we interact with the world and perform gender. As Cordelia Fine, psychologist and author of The Gender Delusion, recently put it: “There are no essential male or female characteristics.” Rather, for the most part, gendered behaviour is learned.
Statistics on gendered behaviour remain important because they show us how the workforce itself has been geared to esteem and develop traits more commonly exhibited by men. Confidence. Competition. Taking risks.
Over centuries of dominating public workplaces, men have normalised their own presence and preferences. Hell, even the office air conditioning is designed for male body temperatures. Women are still other – square pegs in round holes, consistently advised to change themselves to fit traditionally masculine spaces.
This ranking of one set of strengths over another is inherently detrimental. To fully utilise the range of human talent and experience available to us, we need to recognise our failure to value traditionally feminine strengths, and adjust workplace cultures accordingly.