THE BLOG

Why Do Women Want Men to Change?

10/31/2013 02:40 pm ET | Updated Dec 31, 2013
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Men and women truly want to work more successfully with each other, but we're unsure how. We often have difficulty reading each other's intentions and understanding each other's behavior. We're trying our best to work together effectively and find greater happiness in our personal lives, but we're coming up short in many ways, and so unnecessarily!

Work With Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women at Work reveals, for the first time, survey results of over 240,000 men and women across the globe revealing leading false assumptions and mistaken opinions that men and women have of each other, and in many ways, believe of themselves!

So, why do women want men to change?

Women are not as content as men are in today's workplace. From the boardroom to the conference room, women often feel they're being treated and valued differently than men. They feel their ideas are ignored or dismissed during meetings, they feel excluded from formal decisions and informal events and they often feel passed over when challenging assignments are awarded.

Interestingly, the higher up the organization, the more frequently women will cite these feelings of disappointment and career un-fulfillment.

Men, on the other hand, are generally comfortable with the business rules of engagement. Many claim they're unaware of how their behavior affects women. They just assume that their female colleagues approach work the same way men do.

Our surveys bear out these perceptions and reveal significant gender gaps in how men and women view women's satisfaction with their jobs and women's opportunities for advancement.

  • Eighty-three percent of men believe both men and women experience the same level of job satisfaction while only 52 percent of women say they feel it for themselves.

  • Sixty-eight percent of men believe that women have the same chance of getting ahead as men do. Only 24 percent of women share that outlook.
  • We all want to perform at our very best. Yet, our false assumptions about the thoughts and actions of the men and women we work with -- our Gender Blind Spots --prevent us from achieving greater success in our professional and personal lives.

    When women say they want men to change, they are really asking men to remove the obstacles to their success and to value their contribution. This is not happening anywhere near the extent that women would like to see it occur, and as a result, women often feel left out and undervalued.

    Although women's feelings of exclusion are very real, and they're more than justified in wanting men to change in order to create a more collaborative working environment, their blind spot is in assuming men's actions are intentional. Alternately, men's blind spot is in not being aware of how their actions often impact the women on their teams.

    Here are a just a few examples:

    • Women often say they would raise an idea at a meeting only to have it ignored or dismissed. Yet a man will bring up the same idea -- minutes later -- and most everyone will embrace it.

  • Women commonly ask more questions than men do -- often to stimulate discussion and broaden options. Men tend to narrow down options and zero in on solutions in order to make quick decisions.
  • Women often feel they have to work harder, longer hours than their male peers just to be considered as good. Men tend to read this as a lack of self-confidence and trying to do too much to make up for it.
  • We're at an impasse when women don't realize that men's actions are, by-and-large, not intentional, and men don't notice how their often reflexive behavior, so much a part of the male-dominated corporate culture, causes women to feel the way they do. Men often don't understand and appreciate the unique value that women bring to the table, and women often don't know how to frame their conversations in ways that men can relate to and act upon.

    The first step in removing our gender blind spots is accepting the fact that men and women are not the same. The more men and women grow to understand their differences and what truly influences those differences, whether instinctual or cultural, they more insight they'll gain into each other's needs.

    The more we understand each other, the greater the appreciation for our differences. And with greater appreciation -- greater Gender Intelligence -- men and women learn to stop the blame game. They begin to find the complement in their differences and as a result, find a higher level of success and satisfaction in their work life and personal life.

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    Barbara Annis is a world-renowned expert on Gender Intelligence®
    John Gray is the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.