Part 6: Autism and Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory - Masculinity v Femininity

The dichotomy I will be addressing in this post is bit problematic because the naming of it is challenging in its sexist titles. Hofstede decided that countries that show competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, materialism and desire for power are Masculine in nature while those who value relationships and quality of life are Feminine. Certainly stereotypes of both genders can be used to support the naming but, on the contrary, anyone at a beauty contest can attest to female competitiveness and I  believe Quality of Life (at least in their minds) is pursued by men as well as women. Additionally, gender role distinction is higher for masculine societies than feminine which flies in the face of nearly every romance novel on the market today.  Nevertheless there is a polarization detailed by his research and thus requires some form of labeling. Various people have renamed the poles to Quantity of Life v Quality of Life… still problematic in my view but less sexist. I will stick with the original names to maintain continuity with the original research but keep in mind they are labels rather than descriptors.

Before I list the country scores also keep in mind that this is not capturing Foreign Relations policy but individual attitudes at a group level. For instance the US scores almost in the middle of the dichotomy with a 62. When viewing Foreign Policy over the past fifty years the ambition, power and aggression- much less assertiveness- immediately jump out as extreme examples. However that is from a nationalistic stand point and it is often true that national behavior and individual behaviors are different. Another conundrum is that Russia scores a 36 on the scale meaning it is heavy to the feminine side which would also go contrary to its foreign relations since it was first formed. Norway and Sweden fall at the extreme feminine side with single digit scores.

As a subculture in the United States, UK, Australia and other English speaking countries I think we would have the same confusion presented by our societies. However I will go out on a limb and say that we squelch our ambition, competitiveness and assertiveness out of a desire to avoid conflict. Research does indeed show a difficulty in identifying with a single gender (Williams, P., & Allard, A. (1996). Case study: Cross-gender preoccupations in two male children with autism. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 26(6), 635-642. Retrieved from EBSCOhost, Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome). Additionally the traits of Higher Functioning Autism and Aspergers are more acceptable in women than men indicating that the groups are seen as more feminine from an outside view.

And again, as with Power Distance, you should attempt to make a determination about the nature of the people you work with and use the tips suggested by Kwintessential accordingly here in the US or other of the English speaking clusters.  With those on the ‘feminine’ side respect the boundary between business and life, expect men and women to have similar roles in the group and work to establish trust. For more ‘masculine’ individuals keep in mind that your work life boundaries may not mean much, or anything, to them and that business can occur at any time. This is especially relevant in terms of networking. For a ‘masculine’ person any event can be a place to discuss business and your actions in that setting will reflect on how they perceive you in the workplace. This extends to social sites one the web too. A professional LinkedIn account and an unprofessional Facebook account will hurt you with the more ‘masculine’ cultures.

Helpful resources:

World Map of Masculinity v Femininity

Masculinity/Femininity - Tips

Scott J. Shea is the proprietor of Job Sink, offering career advice and exploring employment issues and workplace difficulties faced by those on the autism spectrum.

Part 6: Autism and Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory - Masculinity v Femininity, the sixth in a series of nine, appears here by permission.

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[image via Psychology Wiki]

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