Ask any woman what she can do better than a man, and she’ll likely tell you “everything.” But do women really have special abilities that men don’t? Yes, they do. Not only are women able to perform the obvious biological feats of childbearing and breastfeeding, but they excel in other, less maternally inclined areas as well.
Precision and Penmanship
Women tend to have neater handwriting than men. There’s a fundamental difference in how our brains develop that explains why Jane traces neat block letters while Bobby covers the page in chicken scratch.
According to writer Kristin Kane in Parenting magazine, during the early school years, when children are learning to form the letters of the alphabet, the nerve fibers that control fine motor skills in boys’ brains typically haven’t matured as much as they have in girls’ brains. At that age, girls are better able to learn penmanship than their male classmates.
Of course, boys’ brains catch up eventually and their handwriting improves, but most men tend to write less neatly than women. That’s due to both biological and social factors. Women typically have more nerve connections between both sides of their brains to help with precision, and neat handwriting has become associated with femininity.
Healthier Diets, Longer Lives
Christie Griffin, of Cosmopolitan, writes that women have certain health advantages over men. We tend to maintain healthier diets, have stronger immune systems, and, perhaps as a result, enjoy longer lives.
A University of Minnesota survey of more than fourteen thousand people revealed that female subjects chose far healthier foods than their male peers. While the male participants selected frozen pizza and red meat to fill their bellies, the women selected fruits and vegetables, which have more nutritional value and are lower in calories. We may go for chocolate once in a while, but overall, we’re pretty healthy.
And even without all the disease-fighting vitamins and nutrients we get from our fruits and veggies, women tend to get sick less often than men because we have stronger immune systems. According to a McGill University study, estrogen helps women fight infections because it confronts a certain enzyme that often hinders the body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses.
So it’s no surprise that among the world’s population of those who are over one hundred years old, 85 percent are women, according to the New England Centenarian Study. Griffin also writes that in general, women continue to live five to ten years longer than men do.
Smarter Investors, Better Managers
Wall Street may still be a boys’ club, but women are better with finances, according to Griffin. She argues that women, not men, are the best at making investment decisions and managing money.
Griffin cites a study of one hundred thousand portfolios in which the women’s investment returns outperformed the men’s by 18 percent to 11 percent. The authors of the study concluded that their results might have been due to women’s general tendency to be more cautious with their investments and to think longer-term. Such a conclusion defies the archetype of the testosterone-driven Wall Street trader.
Griffin also argues that women make better executives and managers because “they are better listeners, mentors, problem solvers, and multitaskers than their male counterparts.” She quotes management expert Jay Forte from a Daily News article: “Women are better connectors than men and more astute about knowing how to activate passion in their employees.” Forte adds that this intuitive management is especially important in what is now a “service-oriented economy.”
Whether Forte’s theory is correct or whether some other factor is at play, women are certainly having a much better time in this economy. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80 percent of those who have lost their jobs since December 2007 are men. That may be simply because male-dominated fields, like finance, have been hit the hardest, or it may be because women are, in Griffin’s words, “recession-proof.”
Not Better, Just Different
These three abilities—precision, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing money and business well—are just some of the advantages women have over men. Sorting out our gender differences isn’t really about competition, though; it’s about learning to complement each other as partners. Men and women can’t ever be equals, in the sense that we won’t ever be the same biologically. But we can strive to understand and appreciate each other’s talents when it comes to dividing labor. Let us handle the money, guys. We’ll call you if there are any leaky faucets to fix.