Are Girls More Competitive than Boys? [Guest Post]

This is a great guest post by Linda Sherman of the blog It’s Different for Girls: International Women’s Lifestyles, Work and Empowerment by Linda Sherman.

The question has often been asked, are men more competitive than women? It seems reasonable to believe that generally we are competitive in different areas. Certainly living in different cultures affects our competitive nature. Competition can be defined as related to risk-taking, tendency to choke, versus collaboration etc. Attempts at scientific analysis of the topic are still controversial. There is an oft-quoted 2005 academic study by Muriel Niederle and Lise Vesterlund, this recent attempt from Melissa Lafsky at The New York Times, one on Choking from Slate and a comment from Kate Minaker on the WorldWinner on-line gaming survey.

From my personal experience, I have seen more thrill of competition in men than women.
This does not mean that women cannot be successful. Women can be and are very effective and successful. Amongst women executives I know well, it is more about personal excellence and doing our best and less about the thrill of competition. Personally, I enjoy winning a tennis game, but mostly I enjoy playing well. Watching men play tennis, for most it appears to be crucially important to win, even in the most casual of settings.

This is also a generalization but it seems to me that women try harder than men. We are the Avis of the sexes. This was the shared opinion of my Women on Top Japan group. Certainly for me, mastering Japanese after the age of 30 took a lot of “trying hard.”

When I am trying to accomplish something I have an “it’s never over till it’s over” attitude but I am only competing with a situation not with another individual.

Why are we different? Could it be linked to our hunter/gatherer beginnings?

The Rohit Bhargava Crowdsourcing Blogger Interview Contest
As many of you know, I participated in a blogger interview contest run by Rohit Bhargava who is using various types of crowdsourcing to promote his new book, Personality Not Included (PNI). Shashi Bellamkonda, one of my first TwitterBuds and a great supporter, suggested that I participate. He assured me that Rohit was worthy of the effort. I was pleased to be one of the 12 finalist interviews that Rohit selected from the 55 submitted when he set up the voting process. He presented the winners here.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to come to my blog, read my interview and vote for me.

Rohit’s BrainStorming Breakfast
On April 5, following the Blogger Social launch night fest ending 3AM, Rohit gathered us at 9:30 AM to brainstorm follow-on promotional strategies for PNI. Women outweighed men in the gender ratio of those willing to drag themselves out of bed and keep their commitment to attend.

PNI Brainstorming Breakfast April 5

The Opportunity to Bring People to My Blog
I used this contest as an opportunity to introduce my new blog to friends I had not yet mentioned it to. I sent e-mails to some of my network in Japan, mostly those on LinkedIn and my Women on Top Japan group. I appealed to the group of Single Life Authors that I list in the “Authors We Love” on our Singelringen site. I also wrote to some of my Facebook friends. Finally I wrote to my Twitter Friends. As Blogger Social drew near I made new TwitterBuds with the participants. I included those that had followed me back. My message basically said: ‘Could you please read my interview and consider voting for me?’ As you might guess, jumping to a blog, scanning an interview and voting is something that TwitterBuds are most willing to do. For the average person, this is a big deal request, but on the other hand I was especially grateful for the comments from my non-Twitter friends who took the time to figure out how to leave a comment on my contest post.

The Voting Results
At the beginning, on Tuesday, April 1st, when I found myself getting a respectable number of votes, I was happy. I had told my friends, ‘I just want to make a decent showing amongst these respected and well-networked bloggers.’ I was not surprised that the highly networked Connie Bensen made an early surge to 24% of the votes. I was tied for second place when I got on the plane in LA to go to Blogger Social NYC Thursday morning, April 3rd (I never expected this). I felt so grateful to each person who had voted for me. When I arrived in NYC at 5PM I was shocked to find I was in first place with 21%. I stayed in first place through the night.

Vote Apr 3 LS #1 6PM NYC

Competition is Like Crack?
In the morning of the final day of the contest, Friday, April 4th, I saw Jonny Goldstein’s “vote for me” avatar on Twitter and his Tweet saying, “@LindaSherman is a worthy competitor. It is going to be a long day” and I thought, “uh-oh.” Around noon Jonny suddenly surged from 19% to 34% and I thought, “that’s it, it’s over.” I hadn’t expected to win, so I was satisfied with a good showing. But after tasting a moment of special glory, I have to admit that falling to second place – with an unexpected voting gap like that – was rather a let-down. I had lunch with Shashi in NYC on the first day of the Blogger Social. Shashi happened to connect to Jonny Goldstein on the phone during lunch on another matter, and we thought it would be fun if I said “hello” to him. I said to Jonny, with honest intentions to save him some energy, ‘you can relax now, I am not spending any more time on this.’ I later saw him tweet, “I spoke on the phone to my ‘arch enemy’ Linda Sherman today.” Jonny wrote about “competition” several times including in his final summary of the process Jonny’s I won blog. He said, “As you can see, I poured quite a bit of energy into this contest. It reinforced for me the power of competition to drive engagement. It was like crack. I couldn’t stop.”

Jonny’s tweet that Linda is a worthy competitor

Shashi and Linda lunch Dec 4

Competition can be looked at as a useful marketing tool for crowdsourcing exercises. Voting for user generated videos, such as Doritos’ Crash the SuperBowl contest; or for American Idol, are examples of the many opportunities to make use of crowds to generate both content and voting activity that create traffic to your brand.

What do you think about the thrill of competition, trying harder, and how it applies to men and women?

My Sponsor for On Teens is: This week I have a fabulous blog sponsor: Mia Redrick, the author of “Time for mom-ME.” It is a realistic, no-nonsense resource for mothers—with lessons and tips for finding time. She gives essential Self-care Strategies for Mothers.

5 Responses to “Are Girls More Competitive than Boys? [Guest Post]”

  1. Jonny Goldstein
    April 28, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    Hi Linda and (Vanessa for hosting her),

    Interesting post! Lots of food for thought. I know that everyone in my family (mom, dad, brother and I) are quite competitive. It isn’t always pretty. Competition does not always bring out the best in people: look at the primary between Obama and Clinton. It’s starting to get ugly.

    On the other hand, it can lead competitors to reach for innovative solutions and stretch themselves in ways they can’t.

    The “Arch enemy” statement was definitely written twit in cheek! I enjoyed talking with you and getting to know you better via your blog. I hope that I did not hurt your feeling with my over-the-top characterization. As you can see from my “campaign” over the top is my specialty.

    As for any male/female dichotomy in terms of competition, whew…big topic! I have observed a lot of competitive behavior both males and females, but there are obviously HUGE differences in the ways the sexes are socialized to relate to competition. There may be biological differences too, but that gets way beyond my expertise.

    I am glad you got a lot out of engaging in the contest. Sounds like we approached it quite differently.

    If I have time, I’ll try to write a post with some of my post- contest thoughts, now that it’s a few weeks behind us.

    Look forward to meeting you in person one of these days.

  2. Vanessa
    April 28, 2008 at 12:13 pm #

    I wrote a short story to go along with this post on TWITTER called “How I got Micromanaged at the gym today by a man”

    check it out:

    It is quite harmonious with this post actually.

  3. Sahori
    April 28, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi, I just found your blog. I am actually from Japan!! It’s so cool that you’re learning Japanese. Good luck!!

  4. Sahori
    April 28, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    Oops, I meant to say good luck to the guest.
    My sincere apologies.

  5. Linda Sherman
    April 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm #

    @Jonny, Thanks, I look forward to meeting you. I did not mean to imply that my feelings were hurt.

    @Sahori, please meet me over at my blog so that I can get your contact info. I now give presentation skills training seminars in Japanese.

    I do still think that in general women are more concerned about personal excellence and doing our best and less about the importance of winning itself. I continue to love the question, the different points of view and the varying influences from generation and culture.

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