This is not a trick question:
You are traveling with a companion of the opposite sex, and you lose your way. Someone will suggest asking for directions. This person is....
Odds are, that the person who asks is female, right?
Know why? In essence: a female does not feel "one down" asking for information. Nor does she feel obligated to act on information she receives, FYI.
Visualize a ladder. What images and words come to you, associated with ladder?
People in workshops on this topic have told me words like these: up and down; straight; narrow;ascending; scary (might fall off); one- way; useful; tool; steps; one at a time; strong; rigid; helpful; balancing....
People have used these words: focused; know how far I've come, how far to go; alone; clear path; getting higher; getting somewhere; feels better to be up, or in front of others climbing behind, but fearful if I fall I could take others down with me; only room for one on each step; independent; risk-taking; brave....
For life on the ladder, "Knowing" is what protects and helps, information is what one has to offer, and that is perceived to be a gift.
Now, visualize a web. What images and words come to you? Are they like these words?
sticky; flexible; beautiful; fragile; strong; persistent; connected; trapped; broken; spinning; catching; patterned; gathering; bouncing; creative; anchored...
What does it feel like, being in a web?
Connected; belonging; measuring from center; caught; working; creating; providing; vigilant; busy; caretaking; patient; persevering; supported ...
Connecting is what protects and helps, and is the valuable gift when offered.
Imagine that most men in our culture tend to have a "ladder" worldview, and experience the dynamics and energy of life as a ladder, i.e. life as hierarchical. Primary challenges are about how to ascend. Harmony is often derived from clarity about where one stands on the ladder, and what is needed to maintain or move upward. Anxiety comes from not knowing, or being pushed out of place.
Imagine that most women have a "web" view of life, i.e. that life is a web of relationships that need to be created, maintained, watched over, and that harmony is best felt when all is well in the web. Anxiety comes from feeling a lack of connection, or being too far on the periphery.
How do the ladder and the web relate to each other?
By acknowledging that each has a different experience, beginning early in life, and that each worldview has its benefits, contributions and costs. No one view is right or wrong. Gifts are different , but all are part of the same Whole.
Might this awareness offer increased freedom and appreciation to us all?
(This article is excerpted from my book Live in Harmony: Notes on Daily Peace. Thanks are due to Tannen and Gilligan*, cited below)
*For more on this topic, check out the seminal work done by Deborah Tannen, sociolinguist, e.g. You Just Don't Understand Me, and Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice