Different Gender Cultures Speak Different Languages
There are distinct gender cultures, and they don’t always speak the same language– even if men and women share the same broader culture.
When my client New York Life wanted to recruit more female insurance agents, it started out by asking both male and female agents what they saw as the primary benefits of choosing an insurance career. As the first priority, both women and men said “money.” Men elucidated that as “the ability to earn a lot of money,” while women thought of it as “the ability to get paid what I’m worth.” In this example, both genders used the same word but with different meanings.
The second priority agents expressed was identified by men as “independence,” while women said “flexibility.” If you think about it, they’re really saying the same thing, but their word choice frames their meaning in a completely different context. This example is the mirror image of the one above– a case where different words were used to express the same meaning.
To create marketing communications that women will respond to, you have to be in close touch with women’s meanings and word choices. You can’t strain them through male perception and assume you’ll emerge with the right meaning. It’s not realistic to assume that what “makes sense” to men is going to resonate with women in the same way.