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Do women work better?

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They are considered more organized, more serene, less authoritarian ... Clichés or reality? Studies in support, we inspected some received ideas with Laurent Bègue, professor of social psychology.

Cécile Guéret

Everyone believes that girls are better in everything (except in sports). From elementary school to university, it's true, they're always more studious, more focused and more successful. "Because they have to make more effort to please their parents, they are raised in the reality principle, more than pleasure, "observes Hélène Vecchiali, psychoanalyst and consultant in human resources. We know the story: "Amazed at having given birth to a male child, complete, not castrated, but also sex" strong ", mothers constrain their boy less and value more. While they are encouraged to assert their personalities and defend their interests, the girls must be obedient, wise and smart. In sociology, the debate between egalitarians and differentialists is raging. The former believe that gender inequality is a social construct, while the latter believe our natural differences, positive, rich and complementary, including women particular skills of care, or "care", and empathy. Reality or clichés? We asked Laurent Bègue, professor of social psychology, to take stock. The exhaustive review of scientific and behavioral studies published on the subject reserves some surprises ...

They do not know how to direct?

FALSE

"The studies show no difference in leadership by gender, women in power being evaluated as positively as men, they are neither more consensual nor less authoritarian," says Laurent Bègue. However, he continues, "each time a group exercises its domination in a historical and identifiable way, it develops compensatory stereotypes, and we have observed that black Americans have long been rewarded with relational and artistic qualities, but never with key assets for power ". "Benevolent" prejudices that legitimize the social structure and keep the dominated in their role ... while flattering them a little, in order to avoid the conflict. "But it is the same ones that still weigh on women", notes the psychologist social. And beware of those who violate normative expectations, accused of betraying their gender. Thus, for a job demanding so-called feminine qualities (such as altruism) and masculine (working under pressure), studies show that insisting on seconds increases for all chances of hiring.The only difference: women will be seen as virile, less sensitive, less gifted in communication. Stereotypes that they have integrated: "When they are called dominant, they describe themselves as less loving children, less gentle, less attentive to others," says Laurent Bègue. Unconsciously, to hold power is to deny one's femininity. To believe that, in a patriarchal society, access to this last bastion of male domination remains subversive. Fortunately, the January 2011 law introducing women's quotas on boards of directors had a small effect: 23% of CAC 40 companies have already exceeded the 20% threshold. And that's good: businesses with women in senior management have weathered the crisis better, have had better growth and created more jobs. (in CAC 40, are feminized firms more resilient to market

crisis of Michel Ferrary, Ceram Business School - October 2008.)

Are they multi-tasking?

FALSE

Women know how to plan vacations while advancing on their professional files? Normal: they would be stronger at solving complex problems than men, who would need to focus on one task at a time. False, answers Laurent Bègue: "When one measures their aptitude to do several things at the same time, for example to bar the" x "of a text while listening to the lyrics of a song, they do not have better results." Neither more gifted nor, a priori, better organized, they are just socially obliged, having no wife at home to unload them!

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