Differences Between Men And Women In The Workplace

Patricea Pop

7 minutes read

Men and women have two distinct operating models when it comes to how they approach work, according to Shelle Rose Charvet, author of the well-known book Words That Change Minds.

Let’s have a look at these 10 differences individually:

How do you look at life?

Men perceive life as a team game they play to win and they believe that on the way to success it’s ok to break a few rules.

For women,‌ life is like a traditional classroom where you have to work hard to get what you want and where you have to follow the rules. They often feel they have to be punished for their mistakes and failure is often perceived as a disgrace.

Risk assessment

While risk can be both an opportunity and a threat for males, the risk is a threat that women wish to avoid.

Because of this, women take fewer risks, are more cautious, and are typically better suited for roles in risk management.

Additionally, psychologists believe that each gender approaches risk management in a unique way. While men are typically more practical, women tend to consider the greater picture and the implications of a decision.

How good does your work have to be?

Women demand perfection, whereas men are content with “good enough.”

Therefore, women’s career prospects are hindered by their need for perfection.

They steer clear of employment possibilities until they are a perfect fit; they don’t seek jobs or ask for raises unless they are absolutely certain of the result.

Doing something new

Women experience anxiety, concern, and stress while undertaking something for the first time and when making mistakes along the way, but males view mistakes as a necessary part of the process and take a more exploratory approach.

Research carried out by IE University and Nyenrode Business University indicates that one in two people believe they could work more effectively if they were less concerned about making mistakes.

The study was carried out by professors Dr. Nick van Dam (Nyenrode Business University), Dr. Jacqueline Brassey (IE University), and Dr. Arjen van Witteloostuijn (VU University Amsterdam).

Interestingly, statistics show that women worry more than men do: 46% of women worry 20–40% of the time compared to 33% of men.

How do you respond to mistakes and criticism?

Males don’t take criticism personally when they make mistakes, whereas women are very self-critical and place a lot of pressure on themselves, which impedes their professional advancement.

Competition or cooperation?

Men are more competitive at work than women because, as previously stated, they are in it to win the game. On the other hand, women are more prone to cooperation.

Respected or liked?

While women have a stronger need to be liked and to be in real relationships, males need to feel respected in the workplace.

How do you choose how to conduct yourself at work?

Men adapt to achieve what they want, whereas women prioritize the need to stay true to themselves.

Leadership style

While the idea of collaboration is more widely embraced by women, hierarchically based styles are primarily associated with men.

Career approach

While women need a higher purpose and meaning in their professional lives, men view careers as a ladder to be climbed.

In conclusion, it is only when we are unaware of these operational models that the differences between men and women become an issue. This explains why we frequently fail to capitalize on the advantages of each model.

Comparisons, perfectionism, exacerbated competition in the workplace, or the paradigm that “we are all the same” are only a few of the perspectives worth questioning if we want to move forward in the way we work together, men and women, at work.

In reality, we are just one step away from creating a positive and supportive working environment and this begins with understanding what makes us special and how we can use the strengths and weaknesses of our operating model to our advantage.

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Written by Patricea Pop


It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step and mine started a few summers ago when I wanted to do something for myself, so I enrolled in a coaching programme. This gave me the chance to look at myself from a different perspective: little did I know that it would take me to a different career path, that of being a coach.

After more than 12 years in the corporate world which taught me many lessons and several years of preparation for my new role, I now support people in business to improve their self leadership skills. I think leadership is an inside job and it is part soul searching, part strategy and part relationship skills.

I love writing about work and organizations because it is the place where we invest heavily our time and energy and we often end up feeling stressed, trapped and dissatisfied. My strength relies on my resilience, critical thinking and intuition and I believe it is an honour to accompany someone on their inner journey.

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