Reading Time: 2 minutes

My book review this week is on Joanne Lipman’s bookThat’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together. The author is an accomplished writer and newspaper editor. She served, among other posts, as Deputy Managing Editor at The Wall Street Journal and Editor in Chief at USA Today.

In this book, she uses scientific research, together with her storytelling abilities, to advocate for men to become involved in the fight to close the gender gap – because businesses simply perform better when their leadership is diverse. Several takeaways include:

  • The brains of men and women are very different. In 3D brain imagery work done by Dr. Ragini Verma, she observed that the connections in women’s brains cross from one hemisphere to the other much more frequently, suggesting that they are predisposed to multi-tasking. Men’s brain scans show very few connections between the left and right hemispheres. We all need to accept that men and women are going to react differently to the same situations, because of the wiring in their brains.
  • Women, more than men, will take negative feedback so personally that it undermines their confidence. And seeing this phenomenon, some men have stopped providing negative feedback to women – which might help them get better.
  • There is an evolutionary basis for unconscious bias that dates back millions of years. A caveman, upon encountering an animal, would need to understand immediately if the animal posed a risk – and so, cavemen learned to distrust creatures that looked different.
  • Google has invested considerable time and energy trying to understand why women have such a hard time getting hired. Google tries hard to hire the right people, because hiring the wrong person can do such damage to the company. Yet the hiring process screens out women at a significantly higher rate.
  • In a study done at Yale University, 127 scientists were asked to evaluate candidates for a lab assistant position. “The résumés were identical—except for the applicant’s sex. The scientists, like Google executives, were certain that they were making evidence-based decisions. Yet they judged the “male” applicants to be more competent, and offered them salaries that averaged $4,000 more than the women’s. The scientists were biased against women in ways they weren’t even aware of.” (p. 50)