Women's Intuition Isn't A Gift, According To This Theory, But Rather Another Product Of Cultural Expectations Placed On Women
Women have long been viewed as hardwired with an innate maternal extinct, and what some refer to as a sixth sense, more commonly known as "women's intuition" — that gut feeling we get about things that men just weren't blessed with. Scientists have struggled to define the term, and — I hate to break it to you — prove it's even a real thing. In fact, new research has found that women's intuition isn't a gift, but rather a cultural expectation that has shaped men and women over the years.
Some of the theories defending women's intuition are fairly convincing. One, for example, is that as gender differences were established over the years and women became responsible for child care and rearing, they developed stronger instincts out of necessity, in order to protect their children. Plausible? Sure. But again, this all started with gender differences — gender differences that culture and society assigned to men and women. Not some innate, inherent gift or physiological quality.
Psychologist David Ludden explains this further: Women's intuition is something we created, by dictating who's allowed to have feelings, and how deeply they're allowed to feel them. Ludden points out that women have been stereotyped as emotional while men are rational; of course, men are going to dissociate from intuitive thinking. They wouldn't be very manly otherwise.
In actuality, intuition is something we all have, according to Ludden. "... it’s the basic machinery that we’ve got," he said in an interview. But our culture has repeatedly taught us how intuitive we're allowed (or not allowed) to be. Women trust their gut, letting their emotions drive decision. Men lack emotion and are driven by logic. Really, though, women do not have an excess of emotion or intuition, and men do not lack it.
Think this theory is too emotional? Here's some logic to back it up. A study in 2001 had men and women take empathy tests; women scored better when they were reminded that they're more empathetic. In a separate experience, no one reminded participants of the stereotype; instead both genders were paid based on performance. It effectively eliminated any differences between their performances. In other words, their performances could be manipulated based on cultural stereotypes.
And it's a dangerous stereotype with many real world applications. Women in the workplace are often considered less reliable because they follow their gut (their intuition), whereas men are stronger employees because they follow logic — putting men at an advantage and further encouraging the thought that a woman will take down a whole company just because she's PMSing.
In another example, stay-at-home dads often attract an "awww" response because it "brings out their soft side," implying that men often don't have one. (And let's be fair: Men don't always have it easy, as they're often viewed as more weakly equipped parents because they're missing the "mommy gene.")
What's the takeaway? Men and women are both emotional, feeling creatures. We all have a "gut feeling" that can help us make decisions. We are dissimilar in that maybe women's gut feelings are a little more fine-tuned because our culture has taught men to let theirs lay dormant. "Women's intuition" is really "human intuition," and we all have it somewhere inside of us.