A little background, I am a member of an all-female leadership team as part of The Verve Group, a paraplanner, an advice recipient and also you know, female – so I feel qualified to discuss women from a variety of perspectives.
Let me start by saying, I’m not a feminist. I’m an equalist. I don’t expect special treatment for being a woman, but I do expect to be treated in as fair a way as any of my counterparts, be they men, women, transgender or wheelie bins.
I do have to clarify, however, that being equal doesn’t always mean we should be treated the same. Bear with me on this…
We cannot get past the science, men and women are different in many ways, with one of the largest areas being on how we take in and interpret information. Our brains literally work in a different way. So knowing this, should we be treating men and women the same when giving them advice or writing suitability reports?
If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard a man say something along the lines of “I don’t understand you women…” then I could probably afford a larger pension contribution.
Anyway, I can’t profess to know everything about women, despite my amazing credentials, but here’s something that will hopefully give you a bit of insight into us.
Hold onto your pants, here’s the science-y bit looking at the actual brain areas, what those mean and how they differ between genders.
The hippocampus; the place where memories are stored. Women have a larger hippocampus, so remember things much more clearly than men do and can recall things after a longer period of time. In addition, they use less logic than men, with more emphasis on feelings (sorry women!).
The prefrontal cortex; the decision centre of the brain. This develops at different stages, with women developing theirs at a much younger age than men. Men can process risk and threats much easier than women.
The anterior cortex; the emotional section of the brain. Women’s are larger resulting in a higher state of anxiety than men, with a larger tendency to worry about things.
The corpus callosum; the nerve link between the left side of the brain (logical thinking area) and the right side of the brain (creativity and intuition). Women’s corpus callosum is much larger than the male corpus callosum, resulting in the potential for women to jump between emotions and facts very easily, whereas men tend to think in a more linear way. This is referred to as webs vs straight thinking.
So, what does that mean for the way that we interact with women in our roles as advisers and paraplanners? I work with over 150 firms, which are predominately populated with male advisers and the industry as a whole (while progressing in the right direction) remains a largely male-dominated sector. However, this is changing, and with it, we should consider moving with it and looking at how we approach people’s different needs. I’ve done a lot of work recently with suitability and how to document your advice suitably to ensure it is clear and understood.
So, knowing what we do now, about how men and women process things differently, should we look at how we address this in our profession?
And sorry, I don’t know what us women mean when we say “I’m fine” and clearly are not.