Why Do Women Choose Humanity Over Digital Worlds?
While listening to an interview of Bill Gates at Harvard, I heard him answer a few questions from an appropriately male-centric perspective. ~His wife was responsible for about “80%” of the parenting in his house, if he were starting out today he would be interested in AI, etcetera. It got me thinking; I know a lot of women, even with the same smarts, business intuition, and focus as Gates, who don’t know what “AI” means. Artificial Intelligence is the process of making non-human items smart like-humans, and most of the time, even smarter. Computers using AI can learn who will buy what product, what political slogan will affect you on a foundational psychological level, and perform surgeries more accurately than your average orthopedist. Artificial Intelligence isn’t all bad. Yet over and over when “AI” is mentioned, I witness women, from all walks of life, shying away. Why is that?
After some quick reading and more research, I’ve learned women’s interest in humanity over computers is not just my siloed observation, women are actually interested in people over technology. And it has to do with the way we’re wired.
According to one of my favorite books, Marketing To Women, by Marti Barletta, even baby girls and boys come out of the womb with different life intentions.
Men are hard-wired to focus, input work, to then be rewarded with finances, respect, and as many prospective mates as possible. Men are hard-wired to think about themselves, their journey, and “winning”. It’s a solo venture. He tends to have the perspective that this life is singly about him and the competition to beat. When he works hard and leaps ahead in the social structure the world rewards him.
Women are hard-wired from birth to uplift the community. So they naturally embrace people around them. We look-out for others, want to know their perspectives, goals, styles, and any human detail. Our social cognition is well-beyond evolved from our male counter-parts. We lead with empathy, understanding what everyone else wants, to better the tribe as a whole.
This might explain why he endlessly watches sports (competition to see who is the Alpha), while I watch Real Housewives (observing human interactions). He and I relate to the world around us using different forms of measurement. Women are naturally more interested in people. Men are interested in becoming the Alpha. But that doesn’t completely explain why we have spent millions of dollars privately and publicly encouraging girls to get involved into STEM programs, and they continue to shy away from the majority of cutting edge digital worlds.
In 1970, 8% of STEM workers were women. In 2019, it was 29%. We’ve made progress, but considering the majority of women are college graduates, something is still lacking with women’s motivation in these subjects.
Ultimately, while women tend to be “ahead” socially, with languages, communication, and interpersonal skills, men are advantaged in folk physics. What is Folk Physics you ask? These skills involve objective spatial reasoning - maps, visualization of specific images, and a native understanding how objects can be used as tools. Evolutionary-speaking men needed to be able to protect and defend. Using the best tools, intercepting weapons thrown against them, or aim rocks, spears, etc. accurately at running food - meant they had to understand folk physics.
If you fast forward from cave-men to today, our brains haven’t changed that much. Boys still throw, poke and prod. Girls play with each other - often role-playing other human characters. Men look towards tech and business trends, looking to find the next big thing to input his skills into - betting on his own success to gain the most resources. Women naturally aren’t holding this resource responsibility when they reach adulthood.
It’s also important to note that nurture also has a lot to do with why women shy away from tech topics and invest more time and effort into humanity. Imagine if parents, teachers, and friends are relating to you with examples in books and media that reflect interpersonal relationships, that’s what you grow to be more familiar with. You lean in to those topics. You like them more than topics that have to do with rockships, cryptocurrency, or AI, simply because those more tech topics are unfamiliar and can so be intimidating.
That’s where we are today - boys grow up not just being wired to invest like economic warriors, but also surrounded by friends, teachers, family and media advertising encouraging financial competition. When they are 10 years old, they are talking about Pro athletes’ contracts. If he isn’t athletic, that boy is made to find another avenue to implement his best skills. Maybe he learns to code, maybe he becomes interested in finances. No matter what subject, he is driven to find a lucrative path from an early age. He takes more risks, he is wired to focus his skills to become Alpha, and he’s encouraged by his peers to find financial resources. A decade later, terms like “FinTech”, “Cryptocurrency”, “AI”, “IOT” or “NFT” are familiar. At the very least, they aren’t intimidating.
That girl, who by nature and nurture, grew up to love people, is unfamiliar and uncomfortable with foreign terms and technology concepts that are quite literally, out of her stratosphere of interest. She takes less risk, is hard wired to invest in the community at-large, and encouraged much less by her friends, teachers, family and the media, to spearhead breaking technology. A decade later, even reading about “Cryptocurrency” is awkward.
So, the next time we meet a woman on the cutting-edge of technology, championing a STEM program, or choosing to invest her time and knowledge into the digital world, maybe we should have a tad more regard - she’s taking the road less traveled.