What's Holding You Back? 8 Critical Choices for Women's Success

By Linda S. Austin | Go to book overview

8
CHOICE
BROKERING POWER
Diffused or Directed?

THROUGHOUT the psychological literature on gender differences, one theme appears in a thousand disguises. That theme is the female tendency to connect with the world through relationships, emotional sharing, and nurturance, as contrasted with the male tendency to connect through dominance hierarchies and competition. These tendencies are seen in genetic studies of male and female personality traits; they emerge in studies of children's play; they are reflected in Deborah Tannen's sociolinguistic studies; and they are described by the psychologist Carol Gilligan in her studies of male and female moral decision-making.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that these tendencies distinguish the way women and men aspire to the ultimate currency in any organization: power. Interestingly no differences have been found in the intensity of the psychological need and wish for power that males and females experience. A review of twenty-seven studies found that men scored higher in need for power in fourteen studies, women in thirteen. Further, this need has been shown to be important for both genders; upper-level managers of

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