Helen Fisher
Photo: Diane Vasel

Have you ever intuited that the way women think can actually change the world? Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher would say that you're absolutely right:

Men and women are like two feet; they can help each other get ahead. And, in part, this is because they have different ways of thinking. Women, on average, collect more bits of data, assemble that data into more complex patterns, and weigh more options as they make decisions. Women tend to see the big picture; they generalize and synthesize as they consider webs of factors—what I call "web thinking." Men, on the other hand, get to the point. Typically, they are more likely to focus on what they consider relevant, then ponder in a more linear progression: "step thinking." Both approaches have merit. Each has been traced, respectively, to the hormones estrogen and testosterone. And each evolved millions of years ago as women did more multitasking to rear the young, while men spent more time zeroing in on one thing at a time—often hunting game.

Web thinking has its payoffs—among them women's intuition, imagination, and natural aptitude for long-term planning and networking. No wonder we're headed for a powerful role in the world.

Why? Because the world is coming around to our way of thinking. Communication itself has taken a weblike turn as social networking and collaborative enterprises like Wikipedia become part of our daily lives. Business has also begun to favor women's strong suits. Globalization requires taking a broad contextual and long-term view. And with our growing concern over healthcare, poverty, and the state of the planet, creative thinking is currently in high demand.

Women, it turns out, are built to lead—particularly in the modern world.
— Helen Fisher


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