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Why Men Need Women, by Adam Grant - NYTimes.com


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Adam Grant studies why women make men more generous:

WHAT makes some men miserly and others generous? What motivated Bill Gates, for example, to make more than $28 billion in philanthropic gifts while many of his billionaire peers kept relatively tightfisted control over their personal fortunes?

New evidence reveals a surprising answer.

The mere presence of female family members — even infants — can be enough to nudge men in the generous direction.

In a provocative new study, the researchers Michael Dahl, Cristian Dezso and David Gaddis Ross examined generosity and what inspires it in wealthy men. Rather than looking at large-scale charitable giving, they looked at why some male chief executives paid their employees more generously than others. The researchers tracked the wages that male chief executives at more than 10,000 Danish companies paid their employees over the course of a decade.

Interestingly, the chief executives paid their employees less after becoming fathers. On average, after chief executives had a child, they paid about $100 less in annual compensation per employee. To be a good provider, the researchers write, it’s all too common for a male chief executive to claim “his firm’s resources for himself and his growing family, at the expense of his employees.”

But there was a twist. When Professor Dahl’s team examined the data more closely, the changes in pay depended on the gender of the child that the chief executives fathered. They reduced wages after having a son, but not after having a daughter.

Daughters apparently soften fathers and evoke more caretaking tendencies. The speculation is that as we brush our daughters’ hair and take them to dance classes, we become gentler, more empathetic and more other-oriented.

There are even studies showing that American legislators with daughters vote more liberallythis is also true of British male voters who have daughters, especially in terms of referendum and policy choices about reproductive rights. “A father takes on some of the preferences of his female offspring,” argue the researchers Andrew Oswald at the University of Warwick and Nattavudh Powdthavee, then at the University of York. For male chief executives, this daughter-driven empathy spike may account for more generous impulses toward employees that temper the temptation toward wage cuts.

Is it possible that proximity to infant girls prompts greater generosity? Additional studies, in a variety of fields, suggest this is the case — and that it might extend beyond daughters. Consider, for example, the series of studies led by the psychologist Paul Van Lange at the Free University in Amsterdam.

This whole article is worth reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/opinion/sunday/why-men-need-women.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Women made Bill Gates more generous:

Some of the world’s most charitable men acknowledge the inspiration provided by the women in their lives. Twenty years ago, when Bill Gates was on his way to becoming the world’s richest man, he rejected advice to set up a charitable foundation. He planned to wait a quarter-century before he started giving his money away, but changed his mind the following year. Just three years later, Mr. Gates ranked third on Fortune’s list of the most generous philanthropists in America. In between, he welcomed his first child: a daughter.

Mr. Gates has reflected that two female family members — his mother, Mary, and his wife, Melinda — were major catalysts for his philanthropic surge. Mary “never stopped pressing me to do more for others,” Mr. Gates said in a Harvard commencement speech. The turning point came in 1993, shortly before he and Melinda married. At a wedding event, Mary read a letter aloud that she had written to Melinda about marriage. Her concluding message was reminiscent of the Voltaire (or Spiderman) mantra that great power implies great responsibility: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Along with guiding much of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s philanthropy, Melinda played a pivotal role in shaping the Giving Pledge. She read a book about a family that sold their home and gave half the proceeds to charity, and began spreading the word about the idea. When Bill Gates and Warren Buffett convened dinners for billionaires to discuss philanthropy, Ms. Gates made sure that wives were invited, too. “Even if he’s the one that made the money, she’s going to be a real gatekeeper,” she said. “And she’s got to go along with any philanthropic plan because it affects her and it affects their kids.”

Interesting quote "From those to whom much is given, much is expected." This is true, but in my experience, it's been the ones with the least who have been the most generous. Not related to gender proximity, but interesting to note, nonetheless. 

If a rich person gives someone $5, that's not really generous because the $5 means very little to him or her.

Generosity by definition is giving away something meaningful.

I guess... but say, Gates Foundation gave either one of us a hundred thousand or two. That would be super meaningful to us at this stage but not put a dent in the Foundation. Is that more or less meaningful? Compared with times when I've been at someone's house for dinner here or overseas, knowing they had very, very little, and they put out the spread for me...the best they had, and I knew that meant sacrifice...#2, clearly generous, but #1...is it less so?

Rich people are generous by giving their time, since there's no way they can get more of that.

And big donations. But mostly, it's time.

Time is a commodity for us all...something I've learned to appreciate, especially since I don't have so much to spend these days, I appreciate more 1:1 time when people make it for me, whether it's friend or someone else...Time and thoughtfulness... can't beat that...  

That's true.

I'm saying wealthy people can only be generous with their time, whereas everyone else can be generous with money or time, because a wealthy person giving money, while certainly kind, is not really making a sacrifice by offering pocket change.

Sacrifice is the essence of generosity, not absolute dollar amounts.

That's true. But sometimes it's very little "sacrifice," and a little more taking the time to notice what the recipient needs that is the true heart of generosity. Stopping for that one moment and doing it, whether it costs a second, an hour, a penny or a million dollars... that's often it, regardless of income, SES... 

Empathy is the essence of generosity.

Women in leadership positions create tremendous value:

At work, we sorely need more women in leadership positions. We already know from considerable research that companies are better off when they have more women in top management roles, especially when it comes to innovation. Professors Dezso and Ross have recently shown that between 1992 and 2006, when companies introduced women onto their top management teams, they generated an average of 1 percent more economic value, which typically meant more than $40 million.

Alyson Shontell of BI summarizes Adam Grant's article:

http://www.businessinsider.com/study-shows-how-women-influence-men-2013-7

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