19 Differences Between Women and Men in Business

photo by: Alfred T. Palmer, Library of Congress, October 1942

Recently, I was certified by the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland as a woman-owned business enterprise, or WBE. What does it mean to claim my status as a woman-owned business? I am officially considered "disadvantaged," so – in the eyes of the city and state – entitled to special treatment. Preferential treatment. I can be invited to be on project teams solely on the basis of my gender.

I have been through this certification three times now. With my first business; with my partnership, Terralogos ; and now, with Gabrielli Design Studio . It’s a burdensome process, which is why this last time I put it off for almost three years. You have to answer a gazillion questions, and give them complete copies of your last three years’ tax returns. Fill out a statement of your net worth, provide balance sheets on the business, resumes, copies of leases, letters of reference, business plan, and on and on.

It’s worth the effort because of the marketing advantages. Yet it leaves me conflicted to claim disadvantage in the world of business by virtue of my chemistry, societal strictures, upbringing, education, and weepiness at chick-flicks. It even feels a bit traitorous, as if I’m admitting I’d rather be a man. Am I saying I’d be more successful in business if I were a man, but I’m not, so I have to do all this paperwork to get special treatment?

Lately, I have been reflecting on the differences between the male and female consciousness as they are manifested in how we approach our lives and work. The man in my life has a focused, linear drive. He sets a goal, maps out how to get to it, and takes the steps to get there. He does not angst about it very much. He works through any episodes of self-doubt rapidly. His ability to apply his talents and intelligence to a problem are remarkable. He currently has two active projects and one volunteer position as the zoning czar in our neighborhood. He is working on developing his business and puts a great deal of time and attention to that.

In the past, I have had what might be called a diffuse approach. I found myself interested in many things. As a result, I had many connections and responsibilities in my work life. I served on three boards and did volunteer work for two other organizations, all contributions that I valued and believed in deeply. My business has several projects going on at once, some of which are speculative. When I fill out my timesheet, I might have a dozen line items – and I have a solo practice with one part-time employee.

Does my diffuse consciousness – lack of focus, generalist nature – place me at a disadvantage in business? Absolutely. I am currently taking steps to become more focused, but not at the expense of the richness of what inspires me. Recently, I made an unscientific breakdown of the differences between masculine and feminine energies. In no way do I mean them to read as polarities, nor to compare one as better than another – keep that in mind as you scan the lists.

1. Get-it-done . . . . Let it happen

2. Push . . . . Allow

3. Decisive . . . Incisive

4. Black and white . . . . Shades of gray

5. Efficient . . . . Effective

6. Rational . . . . Intuitive

7. Linear . . . . Circular

8. Exclusive . . . . Inclusive

9. Distinction . . . . Connection

10. Discerning . . . . Welcoming

11. Specialist . . . . Generalist

12. Specificity . . . . Possibility

13. Closed . . . . Open

14. Deliberate . . . . Random

15. Serious . . . . Silly

16. Decorous . . . . Heretical

17. Proclaimer . . . . Translator

18. Agency . . . . Community

19. Laser-beam focus . . . . See-all-sides

Remember! These are not polarities. Ideally, since we are whole human beings, we possess all of these qualities. The trick is knowing when to use them. Or – even before that – being aware that we are using one rather than another. Once we notice that, we can ask ourselves – is this what is needed in this moment?

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. I answered predominately right column, times when left column came through, but would have preferred right column. I ‘prefer’ seeing it as left brain/right brain than as male/female.

  2. I mostly picked the ellipses in between. I’m not sure if that’s allowed, but that would also be in keeping with my character. The ellipses is where I landed after bouncing back and forth a few time, because I have a “whatever works best; each has its strengths” attitude, that is, however, built on a foundation of fairly uncompromising beliefs.
    So it makes sense that 4, 5, 12 & 13 were the ones where I chose right column. There was not a single, exclusively left column choice for me.

    And I guess I’d say if you can get a break in a world that was mainly built by and for people who are very unlike you, take the gift and run with it, for the betterment of all.

  3. Too true! As the Tantrics say, “It depends. . . ” (I’m sure others say that too. I say it a lot to Toby. Probably drives him crazy!)

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