Monday, August 24, 2009

Observations on Gender Differences

This is one of my favorite topics.

I find differences between men and women quite fascinating and have spent considerable time dwelling upon them. However, until now, gender differences is a topic I have been afraid to blog about. My fear has been rooted in the belief that, whatever I write, one of the genders will interpret my innocuous comments as derogatory and then find some way to punish me for my perspective. (Since I am married to someone in that particular gender, I can assure you that my fear is not entirely unfounded.)

Nonetheless, I made an observation this morning that seems safe so I have decided to test the waters. Also, since my readers are all imaginary, I figure I am probably pretty safe. Here is my harmless and benign observation:

Today I took my two daughters to their first day of "Ocean Institute". It is a week-long science camp where they will learn about marine science. Classes are divided by age groups and all of the "campers" had to register at their appropriate stations this morning. The lines were quite long and I had to get through two of them, one for each daughter.

During the wait, I noticed a few of things. First, I noticed that about a third of the students were being dropped by fathers and about two-thirds by mothers. The fathers stood stoically and occasionally engaged in short, quiet conversations with their children. The mother's had their heads on swivels and were determined to speak with every familiar person they could pick from the crowd. They did this while shouting instructions at their children about behavior, sunscreen, safety, and lunch.

Side note: One woman in my queue tried to engage me in conversation but I successfully rebuffed her with a steady diet of one-word replies. But don't feel bad for her, I noticed that she had made several new friends by the time her child was registered.

I also noticed something about the pace at which we progressed. Each queue of people would lurch and pause as students were registered, materials were given, and signatures were collected. When a student and father approached the registration station, there would be about a 30 second pause before they moved on and the line lurched forward. When a student and mother approached the registration station, the pause would be several minutes. I observed that the mothers generally required a verbal review of all of the written materials about the program. They engaged officials in long dialogues about the curriculum, about logistics, about appropriate clothing for each activity, about lunches and snacks and allergies and siblings in another age group and emergency telephone numbers and their child's personality and volunteer opportunities and on and on and on. It looked like most fathers stated their child's name, initialed the box, and then got out of the way.

I am not saying that one approach (fathers vs. mothers) was better or worse than the other. I am merely noting that the difference was as striking as it was consistent by gender.


  1. A quick search on Google provided the data below my comment.

    I think women are just more social than men (and better at it). As an anecdote, my wife and I were out with another couple. I talked to my male friend, and she talked to her female friend. After the event we discussed the contents of our seperate conversations, and I can tell you she learned a lot more than I did. My conversation was sort of high level, non-personal guy stuff (sports, work, etc.), and her's was down into the details of relationships, friends, etc. Men and women are just different (and I think that is good)!


    Over the last 15 years, a series of books and articles have told us that women talk a lot more than men do. According to Dr. Scott Halzman in Psychology Today, women use about 7,000 words a day, and men use about 2,000. On the other hand, Ruth E. Masters, in her book ``Counseling Criminal Justice Offenders," tells us that ``Females use an estimated 25,000 words per day and males use an estimated 12,000 words per day." And according to James Dobson's book ``Love for a Lifetime," ``research tells us" that God gives a woman 50,000 words a day, while her husband only gets 25,000.

    A bit of Googling easily turns up at least nine different versions of this claim, ranging from 50,000 vs. 25,000 down to 5,000 vs. 2,500. But a bit of deeper research reveals that none of the authors of these claims actually seems to have counted, and none cites anyone who seems to have counted either.

  2. I must concur with John that this particular gender difference is a good thing. The fact that my kids are still alive after several years in my care is completely attributable to my wife.

  3. Boo Hoo8/25/2009

    I wouldn't touch this topic with your name on my post !!!

  4. Anonymous8/27/2009

    so John, your wife "learned" a lot more than you did? but did you even care? ..JD

  5. translation of JD's comment: "I don't want any females to vote for me in the poll" at the top of this page"

  6. Anonymous8/27/2009

    Can't I keep voting for myself?

    C'mon guys-- keep it real. Wouldn't you rather talk about sports (see Hall of Fame, Brett Favre, Michael Vick, People hitting 300, steal of home, athlete definition, etc etc) than little Jimmy's recent pulled muscle at soccer practice and the fact that one of the local's in the wives club doesn't like the way another one cleans the house, and they are no longer talking? When we get sophisticated it goes as far as politics and hamsters. JD