Feminine gamification viewpoint: Gender respect
When it comes to respecting men and women, research study upon research study returns with the same outcomes, men are perceived better than women even when the facts show a different story. This week two stories hit my radar and then personal experiences sadly added to it. The first story was about women writing better code when no gender was mentioned, but as soon as gender was revealed the perceived quality went down. The second story was about economics researchers in universities, who are encouraged to publish studies, when women do solo-work they get the full credit, however if they collaborate with a man, the man will receive more credit than any of their female co-authors. When two women work together the recognition is equally distributed.
The reasons for this are stated to be cognitive bias on one side, where men are receiving more respect than a women with equal or higher qualifications and achievements. In a study amongst university students on who was perceived the most renowned in class, boys were recognised 1.3 times when girls received 1.1 of the nominations. It is peer to peer boys to boys recognition that tipped the bias towards boys, girls only had a 0.04 boost from other girls. It is not the only study coming to this conclusion, I have mentioned others in previous blog posts.
The other reason this happens that it isn’t a primary feminine behaviour to self-promote or to point out when her contribution also needs to be recognised. When a woman does take these actions, she becomes a target for both men and women to be brought down a few ranks. Equally as a woman having to stand up each time for your position, contribution and to be respected, I personally find it tiring and not always the best use of my energy, I often my focus is on making sure the delivery of a project is better rather than the necessary promotion and self-promotion that is also necessary. I often wish my work and experience will speak for itself. The truth is in our current society that doesn’t stand up.
In a recent experience I was originally dismissed by a supplier because a male expert had presented a better proposition even when they clearly (if research had been done on their background knowledge) had less relevant experience. Two weeks later the supplier contacted me to have my perspective on the same project, which I subsequently delivered and they felt way more re-assured that their project would be delivered to the correct standard than in the case of the male expert. They asked me why there is such a difference and to that I could only reply that 15-20 years of experience in the HR and L&D field should have been the decision maker and not necessarily who shouts louder or has better marketing.
In my view it is a sad stat of affairs and not about to change unless we encourage drastic action. From a feminine perspective it is a constant game of playing with rules that don’t come natural but yet are expected. I always try to put a gamification design hat on to see can we encourage new behaviour, I have to admit I am struggling on this one. The behaviour to tackle is cognitive bias in my view, but then some of this is not in our conscious awareness until after the facts or analysis. So imagine if you are given two candidates for role, how can we ensure you do equal diligence one part is looking at experience and facts, then the other side is questioning your own bias and rank it to see if you need to review your perception once more. I guess even then bias will come in, so an external view may be better and however not necessarily practical in every situation.
Another option is for women to take a similar approach to men and to look after each other in terms of promotion and to drop the ‘mean girl’ response mechanism. Again it will be counter-intuitive. In any case we would be playing against natural behaviour and responses.
The ideal scenario would be to come up with a completely knew reference system for both gender, with possibly weighting built in to circumvent those natural biases and then a set of criteria which would give a chance to both genders to play to their inherent strengths.
How would you design for more equal respect?