Shari Storm: Many of my friends are married to men who have lost their jobs. As the unemployment rate climbs, this is no surprise -- especially considering that men are getting laid off at a faster pace than women. As Derek Blaylock wrote in a recent edition of ParentMap, the unemployment rate for men jumped 1.4 percentage points the first part of this year, where the unemployment rate for women jumped only .9 percentage points.
I've always thought this was because women have stronger interpersonal skills and are more comfortable with small talk. But I recently read Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax. He describes a study in which researchers asked participants to toss a ring around a short pole.
The participants were alone in the room, and the only directions were to toss the ring around the pole as many times as possible. The participant could stand anywhere they wanted in the room.
Not surprisingly, women stood right next to the pole and made most of the shots. Men, on the other hand, stood a few feet away and made less of the shots.
This changed when the researchers put other people in the room to observe. When other people were watching, women still stood close and made almost all of the shots, but men stood even farther away.
Men stood up to five feet farther away when being watched and missed far more of the shots! "I guess I don't want anyone to think I'm a wuss," explains one of the male participants when asked why he stood farther away when someone else was in the room.
Perhaps the reason job interviews are harder on men is more nuanced than my original assumption. Perhaps, along with being more at ease with small talk, women worry less about being watched as they perform a task.
Taking the theory that women concentrate on getting a job done, regardless of who is observing, and that men concentrate more on not appearing wimpy, I can see how men have a tougher time. I mean, what is more emasculating than sitting in front of someone and explaining: a) why you lost your last job, and b) how much you want the next one?
There are several experts who believe that women will come out of this recession better off than we were before the crisis hit. As the great job shift happens and people lose and find new work, our skill at focusing on the end goal will help us tremendously, and not just in job interviews!
|Shari Storm is the author of "Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss" (Thomas Dunne / St. Martins Press). Storm earned her Masters of Business Administration from Seattle University. In addition to being an executive at a $400 million financial institution, Storm is a mentor for Seattle University's graduate program and writes for Working Mother Magazine blog. Storm has three young daughters.|