Gender Dynamics

Megan McArdle has generated a surprising amount of discussion with a late-afternoon post arguing that “unless the group is overwhelmingly female, the dynamic of any mixed group always defaults to male, with women fading back into supporting conversational roles.”  Further, she contends, “Men gain status by standing out from the group; women gain status by submerging themselves into it–by strengthening the group, often at the expense of themselves.”

Megan attends more parties than I do, so she has more examples to draw on, but this isn’t the dynamic I’ve observed.  My experience is that the dynamics of groups dominated by youngish men change dramatically with the introduction of potentially datable women.  Indeed, I’ve been at parties where the arrival of the world’s tallest female econoblogger caused, in short order, a clustering of males around said econoblogger.

Men have to work rather hard to stand out from the group.  Women, especially reasonably attractive ones, do so without effort.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum counters, “I don’t think I agree that women generally gain status by submerging themselves into groups. They gain status the same way men do: by carving out a high-status role for themselves. They just do it differently.”

He doesn’t specify the difference.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dodd says:

    Indeed, I’ve been at parties where the arrival of the world’s tallest female econoblogger caused, in short order, a clustering of males around said econoblogger.

    Clearly you attend better parties than I do.

  2. Michael says:

    I think you’re arguing past each other James. Megan isn’t saying that the women don’t get the same level of attention as the men, just that the women are not the ones controlling the course of the conversation.

    If you think back to your own observations, was the woman at the center of attention steering the conversation, or was she just the target of it?

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Indeed, I’ve been at parties where the arrival of the world’s tallest female econoblogger caused, in short order, a clustering of males around said econoblogger.

    Were these beta males?

  4. I’m not sure you and Ms. McArdle are talking about the same things. It would also be a mistake for you or Ms. McArdle to generalize to all men or all women in this manner.

  5. Bithead says:

    They gain status the same way men do: by carving out a high-status role for themselves. They just do it differently.”

    Heh… the obvious question: High status roles,in the eyes of what grouping?