Women, Careers, Glass Ceilings And DNA

Posted by: michael  :  Category: Factors affecting Brain Health

Women often refer to ‘glass ceilings’ as a barrier to a successful career and rightly so. However, I suggest there is a powerful yet overlooked factor that makes the journey even more stressful.

Let me explain…
In my view it’s not by chance that women are good communicators, great at networking, open, sharing and intuitive. Nor is it by chance that men are lousy communicators, mediocre at networking, closed, competitive and analytic.

If it’s not by chance what is the reason? Well, I suggest it lies in differences in the respective genetic codes – DNA.

If you’re wondering what DNA is here’s an attempt at a basic explanation…
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the fundamental building block for an individual’s entire genetic makeup. Everything the cells do is coded somehow in DNA – in other words, it controls all cell activity.

But it is contended that DNA carries only information about physical structure, for example, hair colour, body size, reproductive capacity and so on. It does not contain psychological information.  Psychological  factors develop most powerfully from the reproductive capacity of women (which you could argue is DNA based) and the effect of that on the female brain and to a lesser extent to differences in how men adapt to the environment  That means that men and women store, integrate and utilise experiences (information) from the same environment is different ways.

The question is whether the same experiences repeated over generations can actually change a person’s DNA. I’m going to stick my neck out and say yes. While I accept that the characteristics I earlier attributed to women could simply be passed from generation to generation by example I believe that over time they have become at least a part of the female genetic code.

No doubt geneticists will wring their hands in despair since the only support I can provide for that position is that when one observes young women in the most tragic of circumstances. For example, those from generations that have grown up knowing nothing but war and famine still seem capable of nurturing and that strikes me as an inbuilt capacity rather than something they could have possibly learnt from example.

Where to now…?
The extension of my position is that there may well be careers that are ‘genetically’ natural for women to pursue and those that are natural for men. I realise that is a broad generalisations to which some will no doubt point to many exceptions. Be that as it may since I don’t feel it undermines the thrust of what I’m saying.

So if we separate careers on the basis of DNA what might be the characteristics for which we would look? Here’s my attempt… what do you think?

Women Men
Communication Competitive
Networking Closed
Intuitive/Creative Endurance/Survival
Subjective Ego-driven
Group outcomes Dominating/Controlling
Open/Cooperative Objective
Nurturing/Giving Analytical
Supportive Providing
Sharing Achievement


At this point I had initially thought of listing the various careers that fit the respective categories but in the end I thought that if you are really  interested you can do that for yourself – even examine your own career path.

At this point  I would like to re-visit our primitive man because I believe our DNA has changed very little with time. The primitive male was focussed on providing food, shelter and physical protection. The primitive female on management and nurturing (of physical resources and people). Both shared an interest in procreation to ensure survival of the tribe.

But look at the clues to career choice that naturally fallout from this simple probe. Men battle, compete and provide. Women manage, nurture and integrate.

The bottom line of my argument is that men and women are genetically programmed to fit into certain roles. And that by following that simple guideline each greatly enhances their prospects of being successful and more importantly of being happy and stress-free in their careers.

However, if you are intent on crossing the boundaries, first identify what sets you apart (in marketing I think it’s known as unique selling proposition) then whenever practicable set up your own business. That way you get to operate in a framework you have determined rather than trying to adapt to the prevailing operating environment.

Does that mean that women shouldn’t pursue ‘men’s’ work roles or vice versa… of course, it doesn’t. But if you do, be prepared for what I believe to be the fact that you will be fighting your DNA – and that’s mighty powerful so enjoy your ‘misery’!

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