I had two posts swimming inside my head all day, just daring to get out. One on the new book launch by Sheryl Sandberg and one because the Principal of my boys’ school called, again, today. Seemingly unrelated until I started discussing differences between little boys and little girls.
Not having read Sheryl Sandbergs book, and only having listened to an NPR interview and read a USA Today article about it, I can only say her basic premise seems to be that women are too busy getting in their own way to bust through the ‘glass ceiling’. She says, women are, unintentionally buying into our own stereotypes and sabotaging our success while being content with less than men. That bothered me, so I started thinking. I felt it had more to do with nature not nurture.
Then I got a phone call from my childrens school. One of my boys was in the Principals office for peeing all over the bathroom. I don’t condone it, but its Kindergarten, he’s a boy. Again, boys think differently. They don’t often think, ewww – it’s pee. They think ‘Fire-hose!!’, and it’s a party. How many times have we heard the story of the boys being boys, running about in reckless abandonment, much to the horror of their mothers who gasp “You’re going to poke an eye out!”
One friend mentioned he couldn’t understand WHY his mom was upset when, at the age of 12, he was throwing a tennis ball in the front yard with his brother, after they coated it with WD40 and lit it on fire. Really??!! He said, to his 12 year old brain, he was perfectly safe, they were using oven mitts to catch and throw the ball. (As an adult, he gets why it was a bad idea)
After a quick very unscientific poll of about 10 girlfriends, only one said they would have joined in, or instigated, the flaming fireball toss in their front yard. Personally, I would have stopped, thought “Huh, flaming fireball, aimed at my head…Nah, that could hurt, or burn my hair.”
Little boys have higher risk tolerances than most little girls. Little boys and little girls grow up to be adults men and women. In my experiences, men and women have different risk tolerances when dealing with risk within our careers. And lets face it, a person who risks much in their career is usually the one who gains much as well. For example: when a man is given an opportunity with a new firm across the country, his risk tolerance might be lower and asks: How much will it cost to move, and can we find good schools for the kids? A woman’s risk tolerance could be higher and asks: What happens if the new company goes through layoffs, how will I handle losing seniority and will the job be flexible enough to meet family demands. These roles are especially true in a dual income household where both salaries are needed. We can break these molds, but first we have to see them and realize the reality of what is. Only then can we overcome and start taking these risks ourselves.