Women and Creativity

Pavan Soni
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Pavan Soni

Pavan Soni is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He has consulted with leading organizations on innovation and creativity. He regularly blogs at http://www.pavansoni.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pavansoni
Pavan Soni
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Women are more creative than men. The biggest proof is that women pretty much create men, and quite literally so, for the power of creating a new life is bestowed only to women. Science has given enough evidence that females may not even need males to reproduce, which remains as the greatest creation of all times. So I don’t have to convince you that women have the power of genesis, which males often waste! Why is it then that we don’t hear about creations, and innovations from the females as often as about the male fraternity? Allow me to offer an explanation.

Asymmetric opportunities
One has to admit that females get fewer opportunities to demonstrate their skills than males, in almost every field; and in domains where females get the opportunities, mostly their creations aren’t celebrated, for instance, in child rearing, or in managing a household. Women are ‘supposed’ to manage such things, and hence no marks for doing it flawlessly. But by the same logic, even a male is ‘supposed’ to be a bread-winner, then why fancy startups, technology and fat salaries? A successful marriage, a child that grows up to become a good citizen, and most importantly, the vitality that a large¬†family has, are any day more important than the technology tinkering on the margins that most males draw a sense of pride from! If given equal opportunities, I bet, women will excel in both creating, and managing. The argument begs the discussion that why at the first place women get fewer opportunities. I think there are further fundamental reasons for that.

Women are supposed to…
We have a very clear division of labor in our societies, and much comes from the nature. While a male can pretty much work throughout the working age, and even beyond, and yet become a father, a woman can’t continue working and make ‘him’ a father. She has to take a maternity leave, a recovery period, get back to work, and still take care of the family. Left for a male, I am pretty confident that the family won’t be around for long! So the very responsibility of creating (read giving birth), and managing (read taking care of the family) leaves a woman less exposed to opportunities that yield into measurable outcomes. More measurable are patents, salaries, promotions, and awards; and less measurable are nurturing, empathy, and sacrifice. Little doubt, males are more driven by immediate rewards, for their hunting mentality, whereas females can indeed defer gratification, the classic case being the long gestation period of childbirth. So when we look at success from a more worldly perspective, we haven’t really been drawing a fair comparison.

My scant research on suggests that there are the following attributes to being creative:
Divergent thinking
Empathy
Curiosity
Courage
Perseverance

I reckon, that in almost all the departments, a woman beats a man, hands down. Let’s talk.

One of the core attributes of creativity is the ability to generate unique and useful ideas. Unique ideas come when one is exposed to diverse settings, a variety of people and occasions, and moreover, variance of perspectives. An all-men group is shown to be less fissile with ideas, then a mixed group with men and women.

On empathy, it is well known that women can understand the unstated, and equally true is that most buying decisions, even outside of the household, are influenced heavily by women. Putting the two together, it becomes apparent that women can understand very well what other men and women seek, even before it is clear to the seekers. Novel insights come from seeing what others can’t, and knowing what other don’t.

On curiosity, think of gossips! Research reveals that gossips are not only good for women’s health, but also are sources of new knowledge and imagination. Women want to know even from the most inscrutable, and while doing so can very easily connect the dots, along a convoluted path. Men, on the other hand, are expert troubleshooters, and can’t think complex enough.

Do I need to justify courage in women? I hope not. One needn’t look any further than the process of childbirth, in which a woman risks her own life. Anything men do which comes any close? Perhaps not.

Perseverance, again is required to take an idea to its logical conclusion, and women have an ability to stay with a problem, and a situation for longer than men. Here again women can overwhelm men, especially in maintaining long periods of patience. Think of taking care of a naughty child, and an insensitive husband!

Hence, I think we need to celebrate womanhood in creativity, and offer them more opportunities, and take greater responsibilities.

Anonymity breeds creativity

Pavan Soni
Follow me

Pavan Soni

Pavan Soni is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He has consulted with leading organizations on innovation and creativity. He regularly blogs at http://www.pavansoni.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pavansoni
Pavan Soni
Follow me

Latest posts by Pavan Soni (see all)

Have you ever wondered why our superheroes wear masks?

Apart from hiding their identity, and the corresponding ability to lead a double life, one normal and another fantasy, one of the big reasons for them, donning a mask is to allow them to do things beyond the realm of everyday life, and even fail, while nobody identifies them. Do you think that they might well have done similar feats with their identities revealed? Perhaps not.

Let me propose here that anonymity breeds , and the very fact that the superheroes wear masks, lets them be more creative and audacious in their deeds. What can ordinary mortals learn from here? Here is my take.

Let us start with identifying the key tenets of creativity. I believe that creativity is about putting the existing in a new configuration or form. We are really not looking at new-to-the-world offerings or solutions, but those which were existing, hitherto disconnected, and are now put into a perspective and context which is new.
Of all the things that this ability of re-configuring requires, I think that the biggest is the risk taking ability. The tenacity to leave behind the secured and the comfortable, and chart into unknown territories, often at the risk of loss of reputation and even life. It is the same risk-taking ability that makes the rare entrepreneurial types, and then the pure inventors that frankly give a damn!

I can’t think of any creative outcome without the commensurate risk associated with it, even though almost all the other ingredients are present. Either an individual is motivated enough to find a solution, or desperate enough; but in any case, the risk is always to overcome.

What is the present day equivalent of superhero style anonymity? How can one become anonymous without essentially resorting to wearing a mask? I believe that the context has an answer here.

Look at our cities. With massive urbanization, repatriation, and coming up of new business opportunities, cities have become the pockets of largely disconnected masses. The so called ‘collectivism’ of Indians is severely challenged in cities.

While there is a significant social cost of breaking social ties and the resulting loneliness, there is however a great upside. Now people, unknown to others around, can pretty much do anything they desire. They can take chances, fail and try over and over again.

How much of that was possible in tradition, tightly connected societies, where a patriarchal system was ingrained, and where any radical behavior was met with a heavy social sanctioning.

Little doubt then that some of the most radical ideas are by immigrant and not native; invaders and not aboriginals.

When I look around in the city of Mumbai or Bangalore, there are several hundred businesses, which weren’t essentially started by those whose forefathers lived in the respective cities. These flourishing upstarts are by the first generation, or at best second generation, immigrants, and eventual entrepreneurs. The very fact that they pretty much had no social tries to start with, they could choose their ties, mark their territories, and take the necessary risk while still being relatively strangers.

The dual benefits of ‘not being famous yet’, and ‘not belonging here’ help people challenges their own assumptions and those held sacrosanct by the societies, and create something adorable and inspirational. The whole Silicon Valley Story is scripted on anonymity and the feats of technology superheroes; and Bangalore is no different.

To sum up, I can propose that let’s not cling on to our past glory and social bondages, for these very core-capabilities and assets turn out to be core-rigidities, the moment we attempt something new. And worst still, over a period of time, our very risk taking appetite fades away while maintaining those assets (read liabilities).

So – why so serious?