Gender differences

Today, I discovered a potpourri of differences between men and women:

Women underestimate their expertise in using the World-Wide Web:

Women tend to rate themselves significantly less competent at navigating the Internet compared to how men rate themselves. But in reality, both sexes are equally skilled given similar experience and education levels, a new study finds…. The findings are similar to other ways in which women rate themselves low in science and math abilities…. “If, as we found, the women in our study view themselves as less skilled than do men despite essentially equivalent skills, then women may be less likely to take advantage of the kinds of online content that could enrich or broaden their lives, whether it’s enrolling in an online class or finding up-to-date consumer information,” said Eszter Hargittai, a sociologist at Northwestern University. 

The results, announced today [02 July 2006], are published in the latest issue of the journal Social Science Quarterly.

Women feel more rushed than men:

When men have free time, they feel less rushed than when their schedules are packed. Women relieved of work do not feel less rushed, however. The results suggest that mothers in particular feel the pressures of children and housework even when they have time to kick back, said Liana Sayer, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University. 

“The meaning of free time for men’s and women’s lives are quite different,” Sayer said. “Especially for wives and mothers, it appears free time is still combined with other activities or responsibilities.” The study, released today, was based on two national surveys, one in the mid-1970s involving 708 people and another in the late 1990s with 1,151 participants….

Workload increased for women between 1975 and 1998, especially in comparison to men, the comparison showed. In 1975, women and men had similar amounts of free time, but by 1998 a 30-minute per day gender gap had opened, with women having less leisure time than men….

The odds of feeling sometimes or always rushed were more than twice as high for married women with children than it was for single, childless women. But men who were married and had children didn’t feel more rushed than single, childless men.

The results will be detailed in the February [2006] issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Women suffer pain more than men:

New research has found that women report more pain throughout their lifetime. Compared to men, women feel pain in more areas of their body and for longer durations. 

“The bottom line seems to be that women are suffering more than men,” said Ed Keogh, a psychologist from the Pain Management Unit at the University of Bath. In one study, Keogh and his collaborators interviewed patients in a pain management program.

Although the program reduced chronic pain for all the subjects, in follow up exams the women in the group reported pain levels as high as before the treatment — whereas the improvements in the male group were longer lasting. In another set of experiments, volunteers were asked to put their arms in an ice water bath.

Men were found to have higher pain thresholds (the point where they began to feel pain), as well as higher pain tolerances (the point where the pain became too much).

(06 July 2005)

I’d like to see such a study controlled for the mass and surface area of the arm being immersed: it’s possible that women, with smaller, more slender arms, are simply losing heat more quickly.

Why women feel more pain:

Women have more nerve receptors, which causes them to feel pain more intensely than men, according to a report in the October [2005] issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

“This study has serious implications about how we treat women after surgery as well as women who experience chronic pain,” said Bradon Wilhelmi, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and author of the study.

“Because women have more nerve receptors, they may experience pain more powerfully than men, requiring different surgical techniques, treatments or medicine dosages to help manage their pain and make them feel comfortable.” Earlier this year, separate research found that women report more pain throughout their lifetimes, in more areas of their bodies and for longer durations.

(24 October 2005)

Men and women think differently:

The brain is made primarily of two different types of tissue, called gray matter and white matter. This new research reveals that men think more with their gray matter, and women think more with white. Researchers stressed that just because the two sexes think differently, this does not affect intellectual performance. 

Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico.

Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.

The results are detailed in the online version of the journal NeuroImage (20 January 2005).

Men and women view Web Sites differently:

But British researchers suggest it’s not just a Web site’s subject or function that determines whether it will draw more men or women. The appearance of the site also might play a subtle role. In a recent study at Glamorgan University Business School in Wales, test subjects rated the personal Web pages of 60 people for usability and aesthetics…. 

Male subjects tended to assign higher ratings to pages designed by men, and females preferred sites made by women. But the researchers said they gleaned important tidbits by looking more closely at the ratings.

Women seemed to like pages with more color in the background and typeface. Women also favored informal rather than posed pictures.

Men responded better to dark colors and straight, horizontal lines across a page. They also were more pleased by a three-dimensional look and images of “self-propelling” rather than stationary objects.

With those standards in mind, the researchers checked out the Web sites for 32 British universities and determined that 94 percent had a “masculine orientation.” Two percent showed a female-favored arrangement.

Gloria Moss, a Glamorgan research fellow, said the project should be instructive for organizations that aim for wide audiences. The research — which was repeated in France and Poland to rule out British cultural bias — is being published in European journals on consumer behavior and marketing.

(11 August 2005)

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