©Arlene Taylor PhD
Males and females tend to process information differently. Metaphorically this can be compared to a trunk versus a cabinet. In general, the female brain can be compared to a storage trunk where everything is together in one or two sections. When you search for something in a trunk you tend to bump into or come across other items. In a similar manner the female brain bumps into a variety of information when it is processing a problem. This can provide additional options to consider. It can also lead to a tendency to integrate, compound, and stew about the information, sometimes making a mountain out of a molehill!
Females can find it more difficult to mentally compartmentalize or separate what happens on the job with what happens at home, or socially. Eloise could have (had she understood more about the brain) mentally created a lovely hatbox or a sleek attaché case in which to compartmentalize the morning’s argument. She could have made a decision to open the box/case that evening rather than allow it to negatively impact her interactions all day long.
The male brain, on the other hand, can be thought of as resembling a cabinet that has many separate drawers, boxes, and compartments with doors/lids. The male brain tends to mentally compartmentalize (e.g., separate home, social, and work events) more easily. Their brain segments and separates the information it is processing so they tend to concentrate on the present moment to the exclusion of the past or the future. The male brain can put something away, as it were, behind a little door or in a little box and let it sit there while the brain consciously thinks about something else. The down side is that the brain may fail to resurface what was put away so it can be addressed appropriately and in a timely manner.
Female Brain - Trunk Metaphor
Male Brain - Cabinet Metaphor
Imagine a couple who had an argument one morning before each left for work. When the male left the house, metaphorically he put their argument into a pigeonhole in his mental cabinet and opened the work drawer. He didn’t go back to the information in the pigeonhole all day. It might have been helpful had he done so on the way home, however. That could have helped him be better prepared to deal with his partner when he walked into the kitchen. The female, on the other hand, dumped the argument into her trunk. All day long she bumped into it as she used her brain, and the memory of the argument impacted all her interactions. Her perception of the importance of the argument changed as well. The memory grew like yeast and by the time she arrived home from work she was very upset. That morning’s argument had indeed become a mountain. When her male partner arrived home after work, the argument took on a life of its own.
• Perhaps because of their tendency toward a more generalized processing style, females tend to take criticism more personally (on or off the job).
• When criticized, they often find it difficult to separate the criticism of their behaviors from themselves as individuals and their self-esteem may fall.
• They may have more difficulty working with people they do not like.
• Perhaps because of their tendency toward a more lateralized processing style, males (when criticized on the job) tend to take criticism less personally and often look for something in the environment to point to as a contributor to the criticized behavior.
• They usually find it easier to separate criticism of their behaviors from themselves as individuals.
• They tend to be able to work more easily with people they may not like.