Are women more caring than men?
- According to the Pew Research Center, women are viewed as 65% more compassionate than men.
- The social role theory suggests that “through socialization and the formation of gender roles, the behaviors of men and women generally support and sustain the division of labor,” with women raised with a more communal orientation and an expectation to respond to the emotional needs of others, as opposed to men, who are brought up with a more individualistic, competitive focus.
- A recent study on the emotional intelligence of young adults revealed “no significant difference between the genders on their total score measuring emotional intelligence, but the genders did tend to differ in emotional self-awareness, interpersonal relationship, self-regard, and empathy with females scoring higher than males.”
- In 2013, the Dalai Lama argued that “women have more biological potential for compassion than men.”
While most people would argue that women are more compassionate than men, one must consider that this is because compassion is generally defined in feminine terms. Emotional intelligence tests may not fully encompass the concept of compassion experienced by men and women and may not account for gender-specific perceptions of compassion.
Nurturing is considered one of the central representations of compassion in women, but even within this narrow application, women are not more nurturing than men. When we look at what nurturing truly means, i.e., providing nourishment and support for development, we can see this demonstrated in characteristics more commonly attributed to men. Men have a deep instinct to provide for their family, and self-sacrificing heroic acts are generally seen in men's acts of protection. Male role models are strong and powerful because these characteristics are fundamental to providing shelter, food, and resources. The toys and games boys play prepare them to fight for resources, protect their families, seek security, and ensure safety. Men's bodies are designed to protect their families and allow for family development by creating a safe space against predators or events. All these attributes attest to men's innate compassion. While men's behaviors often seem emotionally vacuous, they are misperceived because they do not translate into definitions of compassion that generally define women's expressions.
Men's behavior in expressing compassion is often different than women's, but the limitations of these definitions should not distort the reality that while both genders express compassion and caring differently, they are experienced equally.
Women are natural-born nurturers, but there is supporting evidence suggesting that men and women are raised in different social constructs. Men are raised to protect the family. Women are raised to nurture. Although girls are given toys other than dolls and stuffed animals, they still gravitate towards these items as they have natural mothering instincts. As young women age, they learn to tend to their relationships in a nurturing way by gathering together in compact, caring groups. Young men have a different kind of relationship with friends, one that is based on surface-level emotion. Women learn to share their lives openly, while men push those feelings down and become strong protectors.
A woman's body is created with the natural ability to carry a child. She possesses distinct organs and hormone receptors that set her apart from a man to accomplish the miracle of birth. Scientifically, women have more receptors in the brain for oxytocin, the 'love hormone.' They have higher oxytocin levels, especially during labor and lactation, to bond with the baby. And oxytocin also assists with bonding in social environments.
Oxytocin is known to make people more empathetic, and in emotional intelligence tests (EQ), women have higher scores. They are able to evoke empathy and compassion better than men. And research backs up this claim with women demonstrating consistent levels of emotional intelligence. The importance of relationships is valuable to women, making them more compassionate at home and in the office. Women can tune into their emotions through the heightened influence of oxytocin and are therefore proven to be more compassionate.