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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The difference between men and women


Well, besides the obvious physical differences, you’ve probably noticed that men and women are different. We think differently, we act differently.

It is really apparent in my family, as we have so many women. My mom, Frieda, is the matriarch, there's my sister and me, and of course, six out of the seven grandchildren are female. (I’m sure it was a shock to my husband Garry, who came from a family of four brothers and one son.)

So, when I received an email from one of my girlfriends about a UCLA study on how women respond to stress differently than men, I was intrigued. (You can read the abstract on the study here. In addition, here is a more detailed write-up.)

What interested me about this study were two things:

First, women are wired differently and often cope with stress by “tending and befriending,” rather than the typical “fight or flight” response – which is the natural male response to stress. Women seek the company of other women for comfort during times of stress. (We also tend to our offspring and do other nurturing behaviors to de-stress.) For you men, knowing why your wife, girlfriend, daughter or coworker acts the way she does when she’s stressed out can sure make life easier for you. It’s the reason women go and get coffee together and just “hang out” together when life gets challenging.

Second, over the decades, many medical studies were performed solely on male candidates, and the results and recommendations were thought to be the same for both genders. Researchers have only recently begun to realize that they need to study women separately, because the results can often be drastically different. For example, check out this recent New York Times article (sent to me by my former fitness trainer) about a study that changes the way women should calculate their maximum heart rate for exercising. (FYI, it is NOT 220 minus your age for women!)

OK, gentleman, I need to go now. I have to get ready to go to my (all female) book club, made up of women from ages 48 to 88. We have so much to talk about. . .

Karen

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1 comment:

  1. Great post, Karen, and so true. I'd heard this in pieces, but you put it together very well. My friend was just lamenting we haven't done coffee in a while, and it's making her work a lot harder - and I feel the same if I don't get some break. I'm curious if there is some tendency for that in men, too, but that hasn't been researched. My husband will go out for "man retreats" with the guys (granted, usually involving paintball guns or hiking or video games... but also long nights of beer drinking and talking) when one of the group is just having a difficult time, and they all get back into their grooves faster after that. I wonder if also the stress studies done on men are "informed" or biased based on what's expected of men? (Obviously, the studies of women have been.) Thanks for the great post!

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