Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fight, Flee, or a Third Option for Women, Make Friends

So you thought fight or flee where the only two options when faced with stress? Well according to some new research being pulled together by two women there is a third option: bond with women. Huh? you say. There were two women researchers, Laura Cousin Klein and Shelley Taylor , and one day they found themselves in the lab together. They talked about what they did when they get stressed, and it was neither fight or flee but to get busy, tidy up, de-stress with female friends.

Hmmm... they thought, why doesn't this show up in the research. In reviewing their research, and previous stress related research they realized most stress related research of this type was frequently done on men.

They proceeded with a few investigations and have some thoughts on how oxytocin is released when women are in stressful situations, this leads them to more female bonding behaviors, or family nurturing behaviors. Apparently oxytocin doesn't have the same calming effect when mixed with the release of testosterone.

There's been 5 decades of research that says fight or flee are the options and here we now discover there might be alternatives. It makes us question what generalizations, organizational behavior training, etc., have been based on that male dominant research.

A few days ago I also came across another piece of research from Duke University Medical Center related to health issues rising from poor quality sleep. The new insights from the research were along the same lines - a significant amount of previous research was done on men, but with women the results are different, and in fact more significant as to the cardio-vascular system.

Notice a theme developing? Is this early part of this century going to be about reviewing outcomes from the last century and figuring out whether women were appropriately included in the research. I'd like to think current medical research is more conscious of the inclusion of women in research when it's a topic that is felt to cover both sides of the story. However, yet again if women aren't involved in the research, or commissioning of the questions the hypotheses will be different, different research designed, and the results will be different. It's an important fact to consider when entering into market research or planning phase. It feels like it relates to the gender budgeting post - people really need to exercise the alternative muscles to see alternative perspectives, or more specifically - look people, a benefit of diverse work forces are you get all these considerations for free when discussing projects. Now that is a great proposition.

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