Do Women Have a Competitive Advantage Over Men?

How gender differences play out in leadership and entrepreneurship.

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Karen Burns
And, if so, why do men still earn a dollar for every 77 pennies women earn? Why are men’s small businesses larger than women’s small businesses?

It shouldn’t be like this.

Because when it comes to running anything—a family, a business, a country—women possess extraordinary leadership qualities. We’re more intuitive, more patient, and we tend to share more, which makes us better at motivating. We’re tenacious and we’re great problem solvers (if only because we’ve always had to make do with less). Even more important, we excel at doing many things at once.

Yup, multitasking. We can close the deal while nursing the baby, updating the accounts, scrubbing the shower, unjamming the fax, frying the tofu, and resolving the Iraq war. We are The Man! We rule! Yet the fact remains that men still (mostly) rule the world.

History is one reason. Society doesn’t change as fast as we’d like it to, or as fast as pundits tell us it does.

But here’s a thought: What if multitasking isn’t enough? What if there’s another ingredient to success that no one is talking about?

Such as “focus.” (Or, if you prefer, “singlemindedness.”) You’ve probably seen it yourself. While a woman juggles a thousand different priorities, a man excludes all outside influences to zero in on one task and really succeed at it.

So here’s a suggestion for women: Try to juggle less, focus more.

(For men: Look up once in a while to notice what’s going on around you, and help!)

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .