What do women want? It's a question as relevant today as it ever has been. In fact, we actually titled one of our key chapters in Womoenomics-- "What We Really Want." And the answer finally moves well beyond the familiar Mars versus Venus jokes, in which men trying in vain to crack the code of the female mindset. Female values are, in fact, ascendant, and what women want is now serious terrain for business, and the world.
We want more time and control. We value more choices and connections in our lives. And yes, we are wired to want different things than men are. We no longer have to pretend we're just the same. Because we operate with both sides of our brains more than men do--because we have different hormones coursing through our bodies--we are not only excellent multi-taskers and nurturers, but we are naturals at consensus building and conciliation. We place enormous stock in personal connections and relationships. At home and the office. It's not that we're better at or driven to do the dishes--but we do prefer to be the "meaning makers" in our families, as Kathleen Christenson of the Sloan Foundation puts it.
We do tend to earn less than men, which in many cases is wrong---but the fact is--studies show that women often choose their jobs for meaning rather than salary. And time, to us, is the critical new commodity. We'd usually trade money for more of it. Most of all, we want to control it. It's not that we want to work less, necessarily, but that we want to run our professional lives as we see fit. We don't want to feel sick to our stomachs stuck at desks while our kids are in plays or home sick. We're capable of doing our jobs. Just let us.
The good news? A combination of technology and modern management is uncovering this not surprising fact--when employees can work when and where they please, they are more productive. And, by the way, those "female" strengths like empathy and consensus building are suddenly very 21st century hot as management skills. Additionally, the values and desires of the Gen Y men look a lot more feminine. They want family time, and work in a meaningful profession, as much as a big salary. Maybe women are slowly re-wiring the world, and in another 20 years we'll be debating what we ALL want.
Claire Shipman is the senior national correspondent for ABC News' Good Morning America and a regular on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. She co-authored WOMENOMICS: Write Your Own Rules for Success with Katty Kay. She lives in Washington D.C., with her husband and two children.
Claire Shipman was a speaker at The Women's Conference 2009.