These writers all subscribe to some version of what Cameron dubs the Mars-Venus myth, which holds that women are more verbal than men, that women talk more about people, relationships and feelings, while men talk more about things and facts, that women use language in a co-operative way, whereas men use it competitively. Oh, and that these differences mean that men and women routinely fail to communicate, but can learn to do better — which might explain why Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold more than 10m copies in 37 languages.Yes, males and females are more alike than different. I suspect that this research was not effective at focusing on the differences.
For Cameron, this is simplistic eyewash, best countered with a few well-aimed stats. She cites the meta-analysis of Janet Hyde, a psychologist who has collated masses of research findings on male-female communications. Hyde's number-crunching suggests that the difference in language use between men and women is statistically negligible. Women don't interrupt more than men, nor are they more talkative or empathetic in conversation, less prone to assertive conversation, or any better or worse at verbal reasoning. The headline for Hyde's discovery could read "Men and Women pretty similar, research finds".
The book is The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do Men and Women Really Speak Different Languages? by Oxford U. English prof Deborah Cameron.
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