Gender Role in Creative Thinking – Not What You Think!

Episode 037: Creativity for Charities
April 5, 2021
Episode 038: Boost Creative Thinking By Being Specific – Ten Tips to Generate Better Ideas
April 12, 2021

Gender Role in Creative Thinking – Not What You Think!

Guess who’s more creative – men or women? 

Well, neither is more creative than the other because both are equally creative. They just have different roles in terms of their creative output.

At the end of the day, men and women can both knock it out of the park when it comes to creative ideas. 

It’s just a matter of finding that sweet spot of innovation and finding the right techniques to boost creativity – no matter the gender.

The Study on Gender Role and Creativity

A research study called Role Expectations as Constraints to Innovation: The Case of Female Managers was conducted by two women, Lynne J. Millward & Helen Freeman. 

The essence of this research is that while men and women are equally innovative, their gender role within the context of the organization can affect how it’s perceived as well as how they behave when innovating and sharing those ideas. 

Specifically, here are the things they found from the study:

  • Men are perceived as more innovative and risk-taking and have more exotic ideas.
  • Women are perceived as more adaptive and risk-averse. 
  • People perceive innovative solutions to more likely come from a male manager whereas they expect that the more adaptive, pragmatic, practical solutions would more likely come from a female manager. 
  • People think innovative solutions are more likely to be implemented if they come from a male colleague rather than a female colleague.

The Implications of Gender Role Differences in Creativity

Men are expected to take more risks. And so because of that, if they fail, it’s less damaging. While women are expected to be less risky which constrains their degree of innovation and their willingness to share it. 

Failure then punishes the women and it carries more negative consequences. And so, women hold back to the more adaptive and pragmatic views of innovation. 

Therefore, when you run an exercise or workshop where you get people together to generate creative ideas, make sure there’s an equal gender mix to get that harmonious effect between the risk-taking male and the pragmatic female in order to create this sweet spot of innovation. 

If you’re coaching young women, make them aware of the perception that they aren’t supposed to be that exotic or wild in their ideation. Make them feel comfortable to play bigger – and that it’s okay to come up with big, bold, and powerful ideas so they shouldn’t hold back. 

The good side about this is when men and women work together, they hold each other accountable. Women will tend to pull men and a little bit, rein them in, while men will tend to challenge the status quo more.

To hear more about another study on gender bias in the world of creativity, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 036: Gender Role in Creative Thinking – Not What You Think!