Are women generally more caring and compassionate than men?


Fact Box

  • According to the Pew Research Center, women are “seen” as 65% more compassionate than men [1].
  • Some have suggested that these gender differences are also the result of socialization—like Social Role Theory would predict. The idea is that girls are brought up with a communal orientation and an expectation to respond to the emotional needs of others. Men, by contrast, are raised with a more individualistic, competitive focus [2]. 
  • “Results showed that there was no significant difference between the genders on their total score measuring emotional intelligence, but the genders did tend to differ in emotional self-awareness, interpersonal relationship, self-regard, and empathy with females scoring higher than males” [3].

Louis (No)

While most people would argue that women are more compassionate than men, this is because compassion is generally defined in feminine terms [1]. Emotional intelligence tests may not fully encompass the concept of compassion as experienced by men and women and may not account for gender-specific perceptions of compassion.

Nurturing is considered one of the main representations of compassion in women but even in this narrow term, women are not more nurturing than men. When we look at what nurturing truly means, i.e. providing nourishment and support for development [2], we can see this clearly demonstrated in characteristics more commonly attributed to men. Men have a deep instinct to provide for their family and self-sacrificing heroic acts are generally seen in men’s acts of protection [3]. Men’s role models are strong and powerful because these characteristics are fundamental to provide protection, food, resources [4]. The toys and games boys play with preparing them to fight for resources, protect their family, seek security and ensure safety. Men’s bodies are designed to protect the family and allow for family development by creating a safe space against predators or events. All these attributes attest to the compassion of others and while men’s behaviors often seem emotionally vacuous, they are misperceived because they do not translate into definitions of compassion that generally define women’s expressions [5].  

Men’s behavior in expressing compassion is often different than women’s, but the limitations of these definitions should not distort the reality that while both genders express compassion and caring differently, they are experienced equally. 

Marie (Yes)

Women are natural-born nurturers, but there is supporting evidence suggesting that men and women are raised in different social constructs. Men are raised to protect the family. Women are raised to nurture. Although girls are given toys other than dolls and stuffed animals, they still gravitate towards these items as they have natural mothering instincts. As young women age, they learn to tend to their relationships in a way that is nurturing by gathering together in compact, caring groups. Young men have a different kind of relationship with friends, one that is based on surface-level emotion. Women learn to share their lives openly, while men push those feelings down and become strong protectors. 

A woman’s body is created with the natural ability to carry a child. She possesses distinct organs and hormone receptors that set her apart from a man to accomplish the miracle of birth. Scientifically, women have more receptors in the brain [1] for oxytocin, the “love hormone.” They have higher levels of oxytocin [2], especially during labor and lactation in order to bond with the baby [3]. Oxytocin assists bonding with a child but also bonding in social environments.

Oxytocin is known to make people more empathetic. In emotional intelligence tests (EQ), women are shown to have higher scores [2,3]. They are able to evoke empathy and compassion better than men [4]. Women demonstrate consistent levels of emotional intelligence [5]. The importance of relationships is valuable to women, making them more compassionate at home and in the office. Women are able to tune into their emotions through the heightened influence of oxytocin. Women are proven to be more compassionate. 

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