In the UK, psychologist Susan Pinker (right) has a new book coming out -- at least in the UK -- that says women haven't equalled men in pay and prestige in the workplace because we don't want to.
Yes, this will be extremely controversial and she'll be ridiculed by feminists and bloggers of all stripes. But Pinker is talking openly about one of the most perplexing and uncomfortable aspects of the new information from neuroscience on hormones and behavior. In fact, men and women are different.
From her article in the Times Online:
We have come to expect that there should be no real differences between the sexes. But the science that’s emerging upends the notion that male and female are interchangeable, symmetrical or the same. The psychology, neuro-science and economics of people’s choices and behaviour have exploded with amazing findings in the past 10 years alone.
In particular, an opiate-like hormone, oxytocin, which one anthropologist calls “the elixir of contentment” (it surges during breastfeeding, childbirth, sex, cuddling and nurturing), has emerged as a key to understanding Elaine’s decision to impose her own glass ceiling.
According to the article, many women simply reject promotion after a certain level, because their families and relationships are more important to them than their jobs.
I haven't read the book, but I bet Pinker cautions that none of this information pertains to any one individual, male or female. Individuals vary widely in their behavior; some women have more testosterone than some men; some men are more nurturing that some women. Etc.
This is tough stuff -- and stuff a lot of us thought we had put behind us for good. But as we grapple with the mysteries of being human, I think we should accept the discussion, even if we don't, shouldn't and won't accept being told we should be any particular way because of our genders.
I titled this post "Wired to Fail" to be provocative. In fact, we are wired to choose -- and there are many kinds of success that don't involve money.