Traditional Job Culture Alienates Women
According to Professor Deborah Tannen, women aren't sissies.
They just don't like fighting.
And, men do.
As boys, they love play-fights. They show affection
by mock-punching or playfully trading insults.
And, as men, they explore ideas by playing
devil's advocate and challenging eachother.
Western Civ is Boyish
Tannen claims that girls fight when they have to, but not for fun.
And, they love science and political journalism.
But they don't like confrontational debater's style of exploring ideas favoured by our culture. So they don't pursue careers in these fields.
Tannen notes, however, that women who do not drop out find
that a non-combative approach can also bring success.
For instance, female lawyers who don't force themselves to be aggressive but take a quiet, sympathetic approach to witnesses get the information they need.
They are willing to be critical and offend when necessary,
but not as a matter of principle.
Eastern Civ is Feminine
Not all men like being attacked in debate either.
They find it discouraging rather than bracing.
In fact, says Tannen, Chinese and Japanese intellectual cultures are not adversarial. They try to relate ideas to eachother rather than match them with contradictions.
Tannen points out that Japanese talk shows rarely feature only two guests and suggests that this is a reflection of their desire to avoid the point-counterpoint style. (Steve Kempton disagrees. See his remarks on this in our comments section.)
Source Deborah Tannen, LA Times
Update: NYT columnist, Maureen Dowd wrote recently that men 'enjoy verbal duelling,' and that as a woman, she has wanted 'to be liked — not attacked'. In reply, Antonia Zerbisias says, please, "...there's no shortage of women out there with opinions." Dowd's view is also undermined by the attack that started the journalistic controversy: Susan Estrich suggested that Michael Kinsley was publishing few women because his Parkinsons disease was impairing his judgement.
(See posting on Non-Confrontational Argument.
Also, check out Amy, Lauren and Martha at Snarkywood)