Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?

April 17, 2017

Judith L. Hand, Ph.D.

[A video also presents much of the material in this essay]

Why do our two sexes, in many ways, behave so differently? As Pygmalion’s professor Henry Higgins puts it, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”


(Rex Harrison, Audry Hepburn – “My Fair Lady”)

Here’s another, related, question. Is it possible that understanding how and why some sexual differences lead men and women, generally speaking, to make some very different social choice–is it possible that understanding why that happens could help us find solutions to a host of social nightmares? Consider these problems facing us right now….many of them genuine evils.


To avoid a dystopian future—a hell with all of these raging in full force—we’ll have to deal with these, and many more, under the pressure of ever greater numbers of people trying to make a living and raise healthy, successful, fulfilled children. In too many cases, just trying to survive. How do we do that? Can we do it?

In this essay we’re going to look through the lens of biology at a reality called sexual dimorphism. If we understand and take to heart the implications of sexual dimorphism as it relates to our social behavior, we can take giant steps in the direction of a “better” future. A future that, at minimum, reduces the effects of these social evils, and may actually avoid or eliminate many of them. A future more peaceful, more just, and even environmentally sustainable.


One of Albert Einstein’s most thoughtful insights is that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Given our biology—if you will, our human nature—it’s not possible to create Utopia. But, could we shift global culture enough to not just avoid ending up living in a dystopia, but actually build an extraordinarily positive future? What behavior might we change to get less violent, more nurturing results than what we’ve produced so far? As we’ll see, understanding some key things about our biology suggests that we need to utilize some natural inclinations of women that differ significantly, in general, from some natural inclinations of men.

A primary assumption of the presentation, which offers a biological perspective, is that to create a more positive future, we need to understand ourselves better. And that means we have to answer the question, “What kind of animal are we?” We named ourselves Homo sapiens—wise man—but much of our behavior is so harmful, to ourselves and increasingly to the planet, that the word “wise” may not fit us very well. A better choice might have been Homo acutus—clever man—because there can be no doubt that we are very very clever.

During hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors lived as simple bands of nomadic foragers.

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But they came to possess behaviors that made us one of Earth’s most dominant species. And many of these behaviors weren’t based on carefully thought-out reason. They were whatever ensured the survival and reproductive success of the individuals who gave rise to us.

So, still based on biology, this presentation’s second assumption is that rather than our behavior always being guided by reason or wisdom, we need to embrace the reality that much human behavior is, in fact, guided by built-in, genetically-based, evolved predispositions/preferences/tendencies/urges, whatever you want to call them, and that they powerfully influence much of our behavior, sometimes in contradiction to what rational or wise thought suggests would be a better thing to do. And specifically, we’re going to consider how and why—in general—some of these urges are not the same for our two sexes.

The explanation does begin with sexual dimorphism. This reality shapes much of life on Earth, and as we’ll see, that includes us. The term comes from the Greek dimorphos, meaning having two forms. Most species of plants and animals have males which make sperm, which are tiny and motile, and females, which make eggs, which are comparably huge and non-motile, and have nutrients sufficient to develop into a new individual. Humans obviously fit this pattern.


There are other reproductive possibilities. Some species reproduce asexually, like this tiny water creature called a Hydra that’s sprouting a new hydra out of one side, and single-celled forms like the Amoeba which can divide by pinching itself in half, and even a lineage of female lizards that reproduce without any males. Some, like mushrooms, use spores.

But the vast majority of animals and plants—at least some time in their life cycle—reproduce sexually.

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Now, sperm have the equipment and energy for movement but are small. And eggs, which hold sufficient nutrients for development of a new individual, are relatively very large. This huge difference between sperm and eggs in size, composition, and function has profound biological ramifications for all organisms that reproduce sexually. Because eggs, having all that nutrient material, are much more expensive to make than sperm. Males can make thousands or even millions of sperm, but in every species, females produce far far fewer eggs. This size asymmetry sets up a situation in which reproductive pressures on and strategies pursued by males and females of all species are very different. Anyone who closely observes animals sees these differences play out in many forms of competitive male/female behavior. Observers often refer to some male/female interactions as a “battle of the sexes.”

Sexual dimorphism can occur in three domains: anatomy, physiology, and behavior. It exists in external anatomy, as you see in these male/female pairs (things like color, size, fundamental body shape differences).   ext anat.001  It also exists in internal structures, like skeletons. If you watch TV shows like “Bones” or “CSI,” experts often look at skeletal or dental remains to tell whether a victim was male or female.

Sexual dimorphism in physiology isn’t easy to illustrate because it’s about chemical reactions. Most familiar to you are differences in blood levels of the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. Another fascinating example is that levels of the hormone oxytocin—often called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone because it’s important to forming social bonds—they’re consistently higher in women. There are sex related differences in circadian patterns; in humans a whole field, “chronobiology,” considers how sex may influence things like what time of day is best for taking certain drugs because the ideal time may be different for men and women.

But it’s sexual dimorphism in behavior that’s critical to discussing any social affairs. It seems obvious that males and females of sexually reproducing species aren’t going to behave identically with regard to reproduction. But differences in proclivities that aren’t directly related to reproduction also occur.


For example, during breeding season, Redwing Blackbird males stake out a territory and defend it from other males. In contrast, females scout numerous territories, settle onto one that seems to have good food and hiding places, build a nest, mate with the territory male, lay eggs, incubate them, and rear the young.

An elephant herd consists of females and their offspring, including young males. But when a male comes of age, the females expel him, allowing contact only during breeding season. Expelling males is a built-in proclivity, or preference, that regulates elephant social affairs.

Male and female lions do live together. But although males may join in taking down large prey, in general it’s the females that have the proclivity to unite to kill prey to feed the whole pride. The main urges of a pride male are to guard the pride from other males and mate with females as often as possible when the females are in heat.

For gorilla families, food consists of vegetation, and the females’ biological urges motivate them to spend their days eating and caring for their young. They also biologically prefer to let the male determine the direction of the group’s movements. When he moves, they follow. If danger threatens, he’s the one with the proclivity to protect the group.

So, now that we know what it is and what to look for, we can consider how behavioral sexual dimorphism plays out for us in ways that relate to this presentation’s subject: getting out of the rut of the past to build a “better” future.

This is an artist’s reconstruction of a male and female of one of our ancestors, Australopithecus. You’ll note right away the significant size dimorphism, which for example also characterized Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis.


Size dimorphism is much reduced for modern humans—and by the way, this is thought by some to be related to the emergence of monogamy.

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What we’ll explore is that our sexes have significantly different behavioral proclivities when it comes to using physical aggression—for any reason—including resolving social conflicts, and also significantly different preferences having to do with maintaining social stability.


Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace and a later book, War and Sex and Human Destiny, describe in detail the biological reasons for why these differences exist. At this point, we’ll run rapidly through a succinct summary of that biological explanation. First, recall that we’re mammals, because our females supply milk to our offspring from mammary glands, and we’re primates, closely related to other Great Apes. A number of reproductive traits that are true for other mammals and primates are also true for us.

So here are three basic biological realities that affect women’s proclivities with respect to social conflicts and especially physical aggression. Reality number one. The basic biological bottom line for all living things is to reproduce and have offspring that have offspring. If you don’t reproduce, your genes and the traits they govern are eliminated from the game of life. For example, I didn’t have children, so genes influencing my social preferences won’t be passed on. Successful reproduction is what life, from a biological perspective, is all about.

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Reality number 2. For female mammals, especially female primates, reproducing is a very expensive investment, beginning with production of eggs (as opposed to sperm, as already mentioned) and then additionally, investment in time, risks taken, and energy expenditure. What does that mean? To begin with, female primates carry their offspring to term, nourishing them from within their body, often for months.


Then they risk the serious hazards of childbirth. Then for a substantial period of time they provide milk from their body for nourishment. Finally, they must protect this offspring, care for it, and in our case, support it for years before it is old enough to reproduce, the very earliest for humans at ages between eight and thirteen. If you have children, you likely can relate to this monumental reproductive effort. And then after their offspring reproduce, research shows that women in most cultures are still deeply involved in making sure that the offspring of their offspring also survive and thrive—they invest in their grandchildren.

This is unquestionably for female primates, including us, a very extended, risky, and expensive process that puts enormous reproductive pressures on females. Most especially so for us, since our offspring are born so very helpless. As a consequence of all of this, reality number three is that the ideal social situation for female primates, including us, is social stability for long periods. Anything that threatens the life of these expensive offspring or their caregiver, for humans certainly something like war, has been and is hugely counterproductive.

Many traits characteristic of how women respond to conflicts are a reflection of their evolved, strong preference for social stability. For example. Women, in general, are more naturally inclined toward negotiation, mediation, and compromise. Why? Because solutions arrived at by those non-violent means often result in win-win outcomes, which tend to be more socially stable and longer lasting.

Note, however, that women will urge the men to wage preemptive war if the women can be convinced that they, their children, or their community are under some kind of imminent mortal threat.

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For the overwhelming majority of women, fighting, even in defense of community, is a last resort. But as fierce defenders of children and community—and that includes their way of life—women will fight if necessary. In fact, military men who have fought with women tell me that if drawn into fighting, women can be vicious fighters.

Women are not by nature pacifists or saints. What they are by nature is determined preservationists of socially stable and nurturing communities. Let me repeat that. Women are not by nature pacifists or saints. This is not what is being asserted. What they are by nature is determined preservationists of socially stable and nurturing communities, an innate preference that influences a wide range of women’s social choices.

A review in the book Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace going back several hundred years shows that strong women leaders have waged wars of defense or preservation. Think of Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, or Elizabeth the First of England. But historically, women leaders in power have been overwhelmingly less inclined than male leaders to launch a war of conquest.  women war.001  Elizabeth the first of England is an example of the former protective sort, as evidenced by her mounting a navy that defeated the Spanish Armada. And if the history of the period is to be believed, Cleopatra of Egypt is an example of the less common woman leader, having a genuine lust for conquest.

So now, believe it or not, we have just covered, in a very compressed summary, the essential relationship of women to using physical violence, to waging war, and to a preference for living in and creating a socially stable community. Now we turn to two further biological realities. These apply to men.

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Reality number four: For male mammals, including male primates, the biological game is very different, because males never invest in offspring as heavily as females do. In some primates, males invest nothing but sperm. Human fathers often become involved in some support and protection of their young (think monogamy), but this isn’t even the case in all our cultures…and with only rare exceptions would a man’s reproductive investment approach the mother’s investment.

And very importantly, if a man looses an offspring for any reason—from a fight within the community where he lives or in the course of a war—reality number five is that men have the potential to father replacement offspring relatively easily compared to a woman. They simply need to find a woman to impregnate, and they may or may not take responsibility for the year’s-long care required to bring that child to sexual maturity.

As a consequence of those realities: For many male primates, including men, maintaining social stability is not as high a priority as it is for females. Yes, it is important to men, who have no desire to live in chaos, but not nearly as important as it is to women.

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Actually, the urge to rise in dominance status is, in many mammal species, a primary male motivator, because higher dominance has generally, historically, been correlated with greater male reproductive success. Much of men’s social lives is focused on rearranging the social order to achieve greater dominance. And sometimes this involves using physical violence.

Cultural anthropologist Christopher Boehm wrote Hierarchy in the Forest: the Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. In it he describes life within egalitarian tribes in Africa. What’s relevant here is how hard these egalitarian, nonviolent people work to make sure that what they call “upstart males,” or females, but mostly males, cannot assert themselves in a way to increase their dominance. At a minimum, they’re ridiculed.


Say a hunter brags about what a big gazelle he brought down. A woman may immediately laugh and say how nice for him, since what he brings in is usually so puny. If ridicule doesn’t suffice to nip urges to dominate in the bud, “upstarts” can be sanctioned by group shunning for a while. Or even the extreme of ostracism; if he won’t quit his efforts to rise in dominance over others, they toss him out.

We, men and women, have inherited from primate ancestors the urge to form dominance hierarchies. This urge for domination—the desire to control others rather than share or compromise as partners—when that desire becomes the overarching passion in human hearts it becomes a poisoned wellspring of the evil humans do to each other. It’s the killer of lives and societies.

Now some other traits more characteristically male than female can be used to build an army. One is aggressive male bonding. Certainly this proclivity has always facilitated protecting a group from predation. It’s also key to many forms of hunting.

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We see the tendency expressed in the male love of aggressive team sports, in young boys that get together to do pranks like draping neighborhood yards with toilet paper, and when angry men form a mob—say after a stolen election or simply after a soccer match. These mobs are very unlikely to be composed mostly of women. A warmonger counts on this tendency when he wants to make war and needs to unite men into a force that can kill.

A third, very admirable trait more typical of men, can also facilitate building an army. This is willingness to protect the group, … even at the risk of death. A clever manipulator will assert that “our group,” especially women and children, must be protected from some evil other group. For reproductive reasons just described, women are much more reluctant to risk death. But when it’s convincingly asserted that the group must be protected, most men find it emotionally impossible to let other men go do the risk-taking, fighting and dying while they stand by with the women. Arguably this can be psychologically explained in part by an emotional reluctance to loose social status in the eyes of other men or the women.

This summary of human behavioral sexual dimorphism with respect to social conflict versus social stability, the use of physical aggression, and the embrace of war has been very compressed and very simplified. But hopefully it’s clear why, for reasons associated with reproductive success, the majority of women, in all cultures, have a much stronger preference for maintaining social stability and avoiding physical violence than do the majority of men in those cultures. With respect to many social choices we make, these sexually dimorphic differences are a defining aspect of what kind of animal we are.

To see how these differences influence social interactions of many kinds, not just conflict and war, we need to dig still deeper into biology because humans have many hundreds of behavioral traits that shape social affairs. Many of these traits are reflections of and expressions of each person’s inherited social preferences. And so far research indicates that the distribution of most traits of the sexes overlap. But some overlap more than others. And what’s relevant to social affairs is when differences between the sexes would make a group of men choose differently from a group of women, and a mixed-sex group choose differently from only men or only women. 


These graphs roughly illustrate how overlap works. Imagine that we measure three different personality traits, A, B, and C. In each graph, the range of possibilities for a given trait is plotted on the horizontal axis (for example, the degree of empathy for others, ranging from virtually none to acutely empathetic, or personality type ranging from extremely shy to outrageous extrovert). The numbers of persons having a given trait is plotted on the vertical axis in a group having equal numbers of men and women. In each graph, one curve represents measurements of all women, and the other represents measurements of all men.

When trait A is measured, we see an almost perfect overlap between the numbers of men and women, with most people measuring somewhere in the middle range. This means that in a given context, with respect to trait A, the majority of both sexes would respond or behave similarly. Men and women would choose identically. When trait B is measured, we see that although there is some behavioral overlap in the middle of the range, the majority of men and women behave or choose differently. Male and female peak numbers of individuals are not the same. And when trait C is measured, we again see some overlap, but the range of variation isn’t the same for men and women, the men’s range being much broader. The women would, in general, be much more in agreement with each other than would the men, in general. And, note that the vast majority of women would not agree with the majority of men.

If we could measure all human traits and plot them like this, which in reality we can’t, but if we could, there would be many many different graphs for different traits, and different graphs in different cultures. What we would NOT see is that graphs of men and women always overlap perfectly or are always shaped identically.

The point here, is that when considering how sexual dimorphism affects social behavior of groups—the study of human affairs at the group level—we’re not concerned with individuals. We’re asking whether the size of differences between the sexes for a given preference will cause groups to behave differently. So for example, while women can and do use physical aggression including killing, research and common experience shows that, as a group, men are more likely to use physical aggression that kills. Perhaps the starkest comparison in any culture would be the kinds and rates of physical aggression in a male prison vs. kinds and rates in a female prison.

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Now you are likely thinking, but what about learning? Isn’t learning what teaches us how to behave? How do nurture and nature influence our behavior? Imagine two extremely different socialization contexts, a society of Quakers and the Islamic caliphate of ISIS. What behavior is likely to be learned and expressed by boys and girls raised in a Quaker community compared to the likely behavior learned and expressed by boys and girls raised in the Islamic caliphate of ISIS?

At one time it was actually thought that nurture always trumps nature. That learning always trumps genetic influences. But much research has put that idea to rest, at leasts for biologists. The most powerful studies searching out the relative influences of nature and nurture have been done using fraternal and identical twins. A recently published meta-analysis of fifty years of twin studies on over 17,000 traits revealed an important take-away message: not even one trait was just genetic or just environmental.

The tendencies to avoid physical violence, or improve one’s dominance status using physical violence, or an abiding concern for children and community, these traits are going to have both environmental AND genetic components—learned and inherited influences. But comparative studies make clear that whatever the learning environment, Quakers or ISIS, the genetic predisposition and observable adult behavior of the two sexes are NOT identical for traits involving using physical violence or concern for children and a socially stable community.

To illustrate how male/female differences play out when a gender balanced group is making a socially important decision, here’s a simple example using the case of war.

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Imagine a legislative body with parity governing: there are equal numbers of men and women. They’ve been debating whether to go to war now or let negotiations in Geneva play out a bit longer. The thumbs up and thumbs down illustrate symbolically the men’s vote. Note the hypothetical, but not uncharacteristic, percentages, with 70% of men in favor of declaring war now, but 30% favoring more negotiation. So it’s not that ALL the men would favor war now.

Compare that to a corresponding, hypothetical women’s vote: 20% for war now, but 80% favoring extending negotiations. It’s not that ALL women would vote against charging into war….just that a greater percentage would. So in this gender-balanced group, we have 9 votes for war now and 11 for negotiating some more. This illustrates how giving women a voice in decision-making can add a restraining influence on some characteristically male inclinations.

It’s absolutely critical to note that you would not get this restraining effect on male inclinations if only a token number of women were in this deciding body—say only twenty or thirty percent of the total votes. The effect depends on something approaching parity governing. Half measures will not succeed.

In a paper published in 1999 for the World Bank entitled “Are women really the ‘fairer’sex? Corruption and Women in Government,” the authors (D. Dollar, R. Fismond, & R. Gotti) had noted that numerous behavioral studies had found that women were more trust-worthy and public-spirited than men. Women are more likely to exhibit what’s called “helping” behavior. They take stronger stances on ethical behavior. They behave more generously when faced with economic issues. This suggested to the authors that women would be less likely to sacrifice the common good for personal (material) gain. To look deeper, they compared rates of government corruption to the percent representation of women in parliament in more than 100 countries and found that the greater the representation of women, the lower the levels of corruption.


In many contexts, like how to spend a community’s money—let’s on say building a community library vs. refurbishing the already present ball park—having only one sex, in this example only the men, making all our public choices all the time might not always lead to the very best result for communities over the long term.

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So what might we achieve if we shifted to male/female partnership in governing at all levels of our lives: homes, communities, nations, and the world? As it turns out, we actually have some real-world examples of what female influence might do and has done.

Let’s begin with poverty. The Heifer Foundation gives income-producing livestock, like a cow or a hive of honey bees, to people in poverty. When the animals produce offspring, the recipient must pass the gift to a neighbor. Heifer Foundation was among the first to confess openly that they got the best results when they gave to a woman. She was more likely to use the gift in a way that benefitted her family, and also her community.

Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Economics Prize for giving micro-loans to poor people, also discovered that women were more likely to spend the money successfully in creating a business. Too often men tended to spend on things that immediately increased their social status…like frequently paying for all the drinks at the local coffee house or buying a flashy car. Women, in general, were also better at repaying the loans.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, in their wonderful book Half the Sky, tell stories from across the world that unequivocally make the case that if a woman is given education or financial means, it regularly leads not only to pulling her family out of poverty, her efforts spread to the benefit of her community.

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Here’s another reality with wide social affairs applicability, the powerful effect of educating girls. Boys often leave their community, frequently to find work. And if there is war, they’re commonly pressed into military service and may die, never to return. Girls are much more likely to stay, and they go home from school and educate their mothers. The mothers grow reluctant for their sons to be dragooned into being soldiers. They begin to see other, positive prospects for both their girl and boy children. The educated women begin to lift the entire community. The education of girls has charmingly been called the “girl effect.” Google it and you’ll find numerous groups that have embraced this revolutionary idea.

Starting in the late-1900’s, books began highlighting the positive effects of women as leaders—in government, business, and communities.


These are just a few. Academic and popular articles on women’s effects on a wide range of human affairs are simply too numerous to even begin citing.

These are examples of cross-cultural research that compared different kinds of societies on things like giving public goods, governmental corruption, peace building, and internal and external rates of violence in a society.


Andersen and colleagues compared social giving in matriarchal vs. patriarchal cultures in India, and found that men contributed more to public goods in the matriarchal societies than in patriarchal ones. Perhaps because the men can anticipate or trust that their contribution will be put to good use? Dollar and his colleagues, looking at more than 100 countries, found a positive correlation between women’s empowerment and lower levels of corruption.

The last four works examined the level of female empowerment (judged by things like levels of women’s education and numbers of women in leading positions in government and business). They all document positive effects when women’s voices are influential. A 2014 quote from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon—a man who knows the world’s societies, who was addressing economic growth, business performance, peace agreements, and social issue legislation—this sums it all up: “equality for women means progress for all.”

Now before leaving sexual dimorphism, we need to briefly address individual behavior because of the danger of sexual stereotyping. Sexual behavioral dimorphism that effects the behavior of groups is a reality for some traits. It’s the reason why so many cultures recognize a yin and yang, a sun and moon, a vive la difference.

But individual men and women need to be judged and treated individually. Because the reality for individuals is uniqueness. Here are listed traits in the United States commonly thought of as female and male.

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Reality is that every person is a unique, complex combination of what their society considers to be male and female traits. In every-day terms, in differing degrees we all have a female side and a male side. Now some of us are way more in touch with our female side: say a person, boy or girl, who is very emotional, non-assertive, sensitive, a bit too self-critical, but also sweetly nurturing and empathetic. And some of us are way more in touch with our male side: someone, boy or girl, who is aggressive, competitive, very self confident/self-oriented, non-self-critical, in fact rebellious and risk-taking.

And some of us display a balanced mixture of traits that can be described as being in touch more equally with both male and female sides. This could be a man who is not only aggressive, self-confident, competitive, and bold, but also self-reflective and empathetic. A woman who is not only nurturing, and empathetic, but also when appropriate, independent, competitive, and bold.

In fact, the biology of embryonic development is so complex that some people find themselves with sexual organs and physiology characteristic of one sex but possessed with an overwhelming majority of behavioral preferences and inclinations characteristic of the other sex.

Essentially, all societies have available to them, if they choose to take advantage of it, a rich variety of individuals, a massive diversity that can either be embraced or forced into rigid stereotypes.

Now if we want to start a powerful social revolution for that “better” future, what kind of leader should we follow? Who should we elect? What traits characterize good leaders?

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A leader cannot be shy. He or she must be in touch with aspects of their male side like being assertive, independent, and bold. But wisdom demands that they are also able to be self-critical and reflective, able to change their mind when needed. And to lead well, rather than be a bully or tyrant, they need to be in touch with traits from their female side like being accepting and empathetic with regard to the people they lead.

Our very worst choice for a leader would be someone having traits guaranteed to foster continuation of the world’s dominator waring and socially unstable, in some cases pathologic, cultures. Someone aggressive, bold, competitive, non-self-critical, strongly self-oriented and woefully lacking in being accepting or empathetic. Our very worst choice for leaders.

So….. “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Well, it’s not just culture or upbringing…it’s also biology. The inescapable and powerful effects of biological inheritance.

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And the female half of us brings to our societies two powerful urges: first is a strong preference for avoiding societal violence, and second is an enduring concern for nurturing communities and children’s welfare. These are traits that, in ways we are only beginning to understand, apply unceasing, subconscious pressure that, at the group level, influence women’s decisions about how we should live and what choices we should make.

This 50% of our species that is female has for too long in too many societies been a suppressed or even mistreated class. Women are a massive reservoir of unused, positive leadership talent. There is so much to be gained by passing laws, and providing education to women and girls, and where necessary shifting cultural values so that we ensure their equal participation in all aspects of our civic lives.

If we don’t change what we’re doing, history indicates that we should expect to continue to create dominator, warring societies, and the traits that characterize them. Logic suggests that to get a radically different result requires that we do something radically different!


Empowering women on a massive scale as decision-makers in full partnership with men, in communities, countries, and across the world, would certainly qualify as “doing something radically different!”

After writing Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, my first book that focused on these gender differences, I concluded that parity governing, with men and women sharing power, would be a necessary condition of an enduring peace in vibrant, thriving societies. Subsequent research still convinces me that the empowerment of women is a necessary condition for building societies that foster the development of maximum human potential. Not the only condition required, of course, but nevertheless, an essential one. But my worry then and now is whether we can make the transition to sufficient female empowerment swiftly enough?


Maybe not. Many forces are at work against doing so. We may simply self-destruct altogether…go the way of other species of the genus Homo that once shared with us the top branches of this primate tree—Homo ergaster, Homo habiliis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis. And others. They’re all gone. So far, only we remain.

So I close with a final thought that is also a hope: Can we, will we, Homo sapiens, be wise enough, clever enough, to try something different that offers the promise of creating a culture of peace and the maximum human flourishing that a culture of peace would foster?

Finally, a few words about my background relevant to this subject. I’m an evolutionary biologist, with a Ph.D. from UCLA. My areas of specialization are in animal behavior, including human behavior, communication, conflict resolution, and gender differences. The fancy name for the study of animal behavior is “ethology.” Since I’ve been studying war and peace, I’m now officially a Peace Ethologist, and as an undergraduate major in cultural anthropology, I studied non-patriarchal and nonviolent cultures. Much of my work on gender differences and war is in this book, Shift: The Beginning of War, The Ending of War.


I invite you to the website AFutureWithoutWar.org. There you can find essays, a free book download of Women Power and the Biology of Peace, links to a YouTube video entitled “Ending War is Achievable. Five Reasons Why,” and much more.

A video presentation of this essay, “Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man,” can also be found on YouTube.

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