FAQ Gender


Frequently Asked Questions for users of the KPMG-THT Gender for Business app.

The Gender for Business app is intended to provide a framework to develop an understanding of the differences in the ways that men and women approach working in business. Other apps in our series deal with national differences , generational/age differences as well as functional and corporate cultures.

This app is intended to include tips for communication, management, conflict handling, motivating, education and training. It is based on the Fons Trompenaars’ Seven Dimension of Culture model, and is underpinned by research data collected from over 140,000 men and women across the world.

You are also invited to consult our publications and other online materials for more in-depth explanations and analysis. (see www.thtconsulting.com)

1) What does my profile/score indicate?

How you have described yourself in terms of your values orientations on particular cultural dimensions which might affect your perception of the opposite sex.

The profile you have given yourself is reflective of how you see a situation involving opposing values and how such differences may be approached by one gender compared to another.

The nearer you are to the extreme of one side or the other, the more you adhere to that orientation.

2) Why is the reference profile of one particular at times similar to the opposite gender?

First note that small spatial differences (as shown on the dimension bars are in fact (statistically) different).
And a similar score may result from or in differences in business practice.

Generally, what is important is which side of the dimension are you to the reference gender. Are you more rule based or more relationship based for example? This will give you the best way of comparing yourself with the other gender.
Because the profile is based on the ‘Seven Dimensions of Culture’ (two for ‘time’ making a total of eight dimension bars) this helps distinguish one gender from another. Although some dimension scores may be close together/similar, there will be others where the scores differ more significantly. The graphic is drawn with the largest differences at the top which explains the greater variety and should help you identify the business practices that differ most.

3) When is stereotyping ok? When is it not ok?

Everyone stereotypes. We like to think of people in terms of nationality, ethnicity, gender, etc.
However, it is important to understand that stereotypes become problems when they lead to cultural misunderstandings but they are helpful to capture an overview provided you remain aware that they are only stereotypes.

There is overlap between all sexes – such as between males and females. Yet, there are characteristics men do not share with women.

Of course, American women and Chinese women are obviously different, but often share some common approaches in dealing with dilemmas different to men for example.

4) Does a profile/score indicate that everyone of a particular gender is the same? My profile is not the same as my gender stereotype?

Obviously not., not everyone of a particular gender is the same and we recognise that everyone is a unique individual.

The app Is not intended to stereotype women and men and not indicate whether any orientation is better or worse than any other – they are simply differences, all equally valid. Some men may show an orientation similar to a majority of women (in some cultural dimensions) with respect to how they approach a business dilemma. This does not mean they are effeminate, or otherwise ‘female’ in any way. And in the same way, a woman might see some dilemmas from a man’s perspective.

Profiles indicate the most frequent orientation from respondents selecting a particular answer or range of answers.

Some populations are more homogeneous than others.

The ‘acid test’ is not just accuracy of any profile, but how well the dimensions model helps you understand your own gender orientations, how the opposite gender differs, and how well it informs the way you can successfully do business.

Remember the database profiles are based on gender behaviors to communications, management, conflict handling, motivating, education and training. So your experiences when spending time socially and interacting with the opposite sex may be different.

5) If my results indicate I am a universalist (rule based), does that mean I am a universalist in all situations?

No, it is an indication of your fallback position in stressful situations.
People may tend to hold values for rules in some situations, and relationships in other situations. In most cases, a person whose score indicates rule based (universalism) will hold values tending toward universalism, even though he/she may respond more toward relationships (particularism) in some instances. What is important is to understand the concept (of each dimension) and how it relates to business practice.
Remember that dimensions represent dynamic tensions between opposites.

6) How does gender and age influence value orientations?

Whether you work in marketing, admin or R&D, and age are other sources of cultural diversity – see our publications and other apps in our series.

Functional areas, profession, location, and position in the organization are also influences and are explored in our Corporate Culture app.

Obviously a single orientation (for any one dimension) does not take account of age, gender, or diversity due to ethnicity for example – Our databases have extensive data on these details – see our web site and publications.

7) What are cultural dilemmas?

Cultural dilemmas are present when seemingly opposed values are held by stakeholders in this case between male and female.
Cultural dilemmas have cultural values dimensions involved, such as achievement (what you do) versus ascription (who you are).
Dilemmas can be observed in situations such as communications, management, conflict handling, motivating, education and training, as described in this app.

8) Are the results and recommendations presented in this app based on reliable and valid methods?

Yes, it is based on over 25 years of data collected from 140,000 managers, consisting of approximately 40,000 women and 100,000 males in over 100 countries and has been the subject of critical, extensive statistical testing, and validation.
See our web site and publications some of which are specifically concerned with the reliability and validity of the methodologies and data analysis.
The shorter gender survey within the app to determine your own orientation, is sufficient to give you an introduction to the concepts and for the system to select advice relevant to you. A more accurate and comprehensive personal profile is available from our Intercultural Awareness profiler (IAP).

9) Is it possible to change one’s cultural values over time?

Cultural values are formed from socialization and experiences in a person’s life.
Values are possible to change but it is not an easy process.
The degree of change is itself culturally and even gender specific. Cultures that are more universalistic and internally controlled change less (as might be expected). Where individuals change, it is often towards the center of the dimensions as they become more cognizant of cultural differences.
In general, a person will respond to cultural situations based on values. However, if the context does not accept those values, the person may be observed to publicly respond according to the context.
When relocating to another country/culture, there is a tension between acculturation (changing to fit in to the new culture) and retaining one’s own ethnic diversity.

10) How can I develop my inter/transcultural competence?

There are four steps involved in developing transcultural competence:-
Learn to recognize, respect, reconcile, and realize cultural differences. And therefore avoid embarrassment, accept other cultures right to self-determination, communicate more effectively, use cultural differences in business to competitive advantage, and finally implement and deliver the benefits of diversity.
See our ICP intercultural Competence Profiler which is designed specifically to facilitate such personal development.

11) What broadly are the effects of immigration on the validity of this model?

Immigration may influence results as people with different values may increase the frequency of those holding a particular orientation in a particular country.
Note that this app, and our model generally are not about travel and tourism and any subjective impressions (or experiences) you have about other genders, but what cultural differences mean in terms of doing business in and with other genders.
In this context it is important to note that cultural diversity has an effect on the role men and women play in different cultures in terms of almost all seven dimensions. See our web site and publications concerning cultural convergence and acculturation. Specifically our article “The Structure of Entrapment” published by GBN sheds some lights on the complexity of gender roles across national cultures.

12) Why do some of the country scores differ from scores given in other publications from THT such as in Riding the Waves of Culture?

It is important to compare like with like and what data is being displayed. Thus, some of our publications and/or online tools show profiles or orientations based on a single multiple choice test. Some are based on weighing responses to several multiple choice tests, some are based on positioning sliders across a scale etc. etc.
Some orientations are shown as raw data, some are corrected for age distributions and gender for example.
The data shown in this app are selected to illustrate the concepts of management practices, meetings and negotiations. Although absolute profiles values as shown in dimension graphics may appear different to bar charts in some of our other publications, the relative differences will be more similar.
The ‘acid test’ is not just accuracy of any profile, but how well the dimensions model helps you understand your own cultural orientations, how other
cultures differ, and how well it informs the way you can do business more effectively.

13) What is affecting specific values more gender, generation or national culture?

As you can see in Riding the Waves of Culture, the effect of age, gender or national culture depends on the value orientation or dimension at stake. In most cases it is national culture that has the largest effect. This might also be caused by the fact that our original research and its tools were set up to measure those kind of differences. And there is another complexity because of the interactions between the areas. If you have a young US American female talking to an older Japanese male, do you know what is causing what. At the end it doesn’t matter. Look at the issue at stake and on the basis of mutual respect try to reconcile it by enriching each other.

14) Are cultures converging as the world becomes more global?

Although mass media, transportation, and the global economy have brought many cultures into contact with others, most cultures of the world have retained their core values.
Corporations may influence how people in their organization behave in the workplace in different regions of the world.
However, national and regional cultures are slow to change. If there is change, it is more toward polarization of belief and values based on religion, economic development, and political philosophy.
Values of same gender are also different around the globe as national culture plays a vital role.

15) Is universalism (rule based) for one particular gender the same as universalism for the opposite gender?

The value for rules is essentially based on the same concept. However, in some situations the “rules” may be observed differently. For example there are certain traffic rules that are taken more seriously by females while if you ask about following the rules for making some food dish females might be more following it than males.

16) Are gender roles consistent across functions? For example, can men be rule based (universalistic) as far as production is concerned but relationship based (particularistic) in marketing?

Yes, functional units and professions such as engineering, accounting, and marketing can be observed to hold different, even competing values within the same corporation.
However, this is due mainly to employees who have opted in their career choices. Thus people with a stronger sense of standardization may become accountants because it satisfies their belief systems. Other candidates may opt to work in marketing where they can exploit their orientation to be more particular or externally controlled for example.

17) Do different academic disciplines view and explain gender differences in the same way?

The disciplines who study and write about culture can be observed to hold different cultural orientations which influence how they fundamentally see culture. For example, psychologists from the USA have individualistic values.
Research on motivation conducted by psychologists and management researchers has been found to reflect the bias of the country in which the studies were undertaken and nationality of the researchers. Individualism and achievement have often been cited as influential in motivation. However, in cultures holding communitarian and ascriptive values that may not be to the same degree.

18) Is it possible to have different ratings on a dimension due to my responses to different questions?

Yes. You may receive a different profile rating when responding to two different questions, even if the two questions are used to measure the same cultural dimension.

19) Why is understanding a particular gender role important?

When conducting business in locations and situations different from your own gender, there are many potential areas for confusion, misunderstanding, and even conflict.
Having a fundamental understanding of a particular gender role provides you with the potential to adapt to diverse locations and situations.
Ultimately, you need to avoid embarrassment, ensure cross-communication is effective, reconcile these differences and realize the business benefits of different points of view.

20) Is there a best answer to the gender survey questions?

There are no best answers – A gender role is also different when one is in a different geographical location.
It is important to recognize and respect opposite values and your own position of cultural relativity.