As any woman can attest, there are some things at which her sex
naturally excels. In the past decade, academic research has offered insight
into the feminine advantage:
The Language Gap
Studies show that, on average, women perform better in all aspects of
language use, says Diane Halpern, a psychology professor at California State
University. San Bernardino and author of sex
differences in Cognitive Abilities. The differences show up early. Girls
begin talking before boys, have larger vocabularies at an earlier age, and
produce more varied and sophisticated sentences. Statistics show that girls in
Grades IV, VIII and XII score higher than boys in reading and writing.
This verbal superiority may
last into adulthood. Studies show that women excel at certain verbal-fluency
tests, such as listing multiple words that begin with the same letter. Some
researchers have also found women more adept than men at learning foreign
According to psychologist, Doreen Kimura of the University of Western
Ontario, women outperform men on “precision manual tasks”. In studies involving
quick, accurate, small movements, including a pegboard test (in which subjects
place small pegs into holes as quickly as they can), women outdo men.
Women’s noses know. In a study of 1,955 men and women, Richard L. Doty
of the University of Pennsylvania Smell and Taste Centre asked randomly
selected sniffers to identity scents. He found that, on average, women
Women also have lower odour “thresholds,” meaning they can detect fainter
odours than men. Women do better than men on hearing tests too. And their
hearing deteriorates less rapidly than men’s over time, according to Mary Anne
Baker, a psychology professor at Indian University southeast. Besides all that,
women are better able to discern and later recall the location of objects in a
given space, which perhaps explains why some husbands can stare into the
refrigerator, eye focused directly on the milk, and ask, “Is there any milk?”
Women smile and laugh more, gaze more directly at others, and sit or
stand closer to people than men do, according to psychologist Judith Hall of
Northeastern University in Boston.
In 20 studies of videotaped public
gatherings, the difference was pronounced. Female doctors also smile
considerably more than their male colleagues.
Women interrupt less, are more likely to be complimentary, and laugh
at other people’s jokes more often, reports Linda Carli, a Wellesley College
psychology professor who has spent 13 years studying sex difference in social
interactions. And women even disagree agreeably, as in “That’s a good point,
In numerous studies, women also read nonverbal cues – facial
expressions, body movements, changes in tone of voice – more accurately than
men do, according to Hall. Women’s faces are generally more expressive than
men’s too, she says.
Born To Lead
As more women rise to upper management, researchers have examined
difference in how men and women lead. Women tend to share power, encourage
participation and boost their employees’ sense of self-worth, observes Prof.
Judy B. Rosener of the graduate school of management at the University of
California, Irvine. Many of the women she surveyed believe subordinates perform
best when they feel good about themselves, and women tend to foster than
feeling. In significant contrast, their male counterparts exercise more formal
authority and care more about hierarchy, Rosener found.
Women also score higher on “integrity tests designed to predict
discipline problems on the job, according to Frank Schmidt, a professor of
human resources at the University of Iowa. These tests – which indicate
possible problems such as tardiness and a tendency to steal – showed sex