Singaporebrides | The Groom Room

March 2015

Men Are Better: The Myths

There are some things that men are better at. Or are they? Fu Jinming re-examines the perceived strengths of the modern man. And separates fact from fiction.

We’ve all heard it before. Some of us men – and women – have even been raised to believe it; that guys are just better at some things than women. From parking the car to reading the map to replacing the lightbulb, the male species is seen as genetically more proficient at certain tasks than womenfolk. We are (allegedly) thought to be innately wired to activities that require logical thinking, endurance and strength. Our forte, or so it seems, lies in the technical stuff; anything mechanical or technological, or that requires snap judgements, we’re seen as the go-to men.

Or are we?

Recent statistics have shown that women are just as good, or better than men in many traditionally male-dominated fields. There are now more female CEOs at the top of some of the most renowned global organisations, for example. Ones that demand the same rigours of their female professionals as they do their men. Which suggests that the only reason men have been perceived as the stronger sex is the fact that we’ve dominated the professional arena for centuries, while women are just getting into the game.

As the playing field quickly levels, will any of today’s gender biases in professional and living competencies still stand? We examine four myths about the superiorities of the modern man, and see if the fairer sex does in fact pale in any way:

Myth 1: Men are better drivers

Here’s one for the road: men are perceived to be better drivers, simply because they’re more confident behind the wheel. And the source of their confidence? The perception that they’re better behind the wheel! Conversely, stereotypes about women’s weakness in driving may affect their confidence and performance when driving.

Hardly surprising, given the power of perception. As women are less confident, they take less risks on the road, which often translates to slower driving, and fuels the impression that they’re less proficient than men. What we don’t realise is they actually make for safer drivers too; recent statistics have revealed that men are responsible for more car accidents than women.

There may be a grain of truth somewhere though. In a scientific study that tested the parallel parking skills of both sexes, men were found to be five per cent better in the handling and positioning of the car. The conclusion: men have better co-ordination and spatial awareness as their brains could process the changing speed and position of the vehicle more quickly.

But as more women take the wheel, this slight advantage may seem insignificant soon enough. After all, practice makes perfect.

Myth 2: Men are better at reading maps

Often accused of being lousy navigators, women are seen as poor map readers when compared to men. Guys, as born-hunters, are perceived to be able to orientate themselves better on a map, and to find their destination faster without getting lost.

You’ll be surprised to know that, though studies have shown men to be hardwired to have better spatial awareness than their female counterparts – especially in tasks like map reading – women actually come out tops when it comes to remembering routes.

Experiments have shown women to be likelier than men to recall their routes using landmarks and retraced paths. Scientists have attributed this to the female’s prehistoric role as a gatherer, with a memory-oriented navigational approach that was better for gathering grown food.

And that is why women feel right at home at supermarkets and shopping malls, while men are hopelessly lost in the labyrinth – with or without a map.

Men are better?

Myth 3: Men are better chefs

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen,” so said ancient Greek scribe, Aeschylus. So it is not without irony that men are often considered to be better chefs than women. While the home kitchen is seen as the wife’s domain, the professional one evidently isn’t: of the 140 restaurants awarded Michelin stars in the UK, only 11 had female head chefs. And popular TV culinary competition MasterChef has crowned a woman only once in its 9-year history.

For some, the disparity is physical. Restaurant kitchens are seen as fire and brimstone-type places. And the heavy woks, pots and pans do demand serious muscle power. Others say that men are simply more passionate about cooking, and work harder at perfecting it. They see women as more suited to the ‘softer’ side of the culinary arts – in the confectionary and desserts corner.

Yet as more women join the professional kitchen, with some even running them, the gender bias is slowly dissolving. In fact, even renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsay now admit that female chefs learn much quicker than male ones. And the ladies have their sensitivities to thank; women only need to be told off once for a mistake. Men, on the other hand, have thicker skins, and a shorter attention span.

Moreover, restaurateurs are quickly realising that when women end up running the kitchen, they tend to run calmer ones. There is less bullying, greater patience, and keener eyes for detail. All of which is a recipe for mouthwatering greatness.

Myth 4: Men are better with technology

Men and technology seem to go together like milk and cookies. Computer hung on you? Get the husband or boyfriend to fix it. Software bug on your mobile? Bring it to the burley guy at the neighbourhood Ah Beng store.

It could be that men are predisposed to having greater aptitude for computers and machinery than women. Or that our ancient genes have passed on our affinity with tools and logic. Whichever it is, women aren’t seen as being as embracing of – and competent in – tech-based work as men are.

But a look at the most powerful people in technology today tells a different story. Many of the top global tech companies have women at their helm. And not just as mistresses of the boardroom, but as leading technologists. Marissa Mayer, for instance, was a pioneering engineer at Google, perfecting their web search capabilities before crossing the divide to become CEO of Yahoo!.

Closer to home, you only need to look at the proliferation of smartphones and mobile apps designed for the ladies to realise just how pervasive technology has become in their lives – and how much more adept they are wielding it. Add to that their amazing ability to multi-task, and you’ve got a natural multi-screen digirati.

Myth 5: Men are better at beer pong

Yes we are. We really, truly are.