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August 01, 2012



This is an important reason why social change is slow and patchy. Social groups select for continuation of the same characteristics deliberately or otherwise. It also is why formal democracy can be very disappointing; the system promotes those who subscribe to the status quo power relations.


Does it follow that companies would behave more ethically if they had more women in positions of influence?

The received feminist wisdom keeps saying 'yes' without explaining how or why - i.e. the question of 'natural' or 'socialised' reasons - resulting in assertions of moral superiority that look for all the world like essentialism masquerading as better business sense.

See for example this piece about the Enron scandal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2002/feb/19/corporatefraud.enron

But anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World, says women are incapable of looking the other way, even if doing so would fur ther their careers. She says evolution has wired women to be natural whistleblowers.

"Men cast themselves in hierarchies and play by rules," she says. "You see this on the playground, when boys jockey for position. Men learn early to give orders and take them. Once they start golfing and joining the old boys network, they create allegiances they will not break. "Women do not organise themselves in hierarchies. Girls play in groups, and share information."

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