Culture’s Consequences (Part 4): Masculinity-Femininity

Posted: December 18, 2012 in Ethical decision-making
Tags: , , , , ,
We Can Do It!

We Can Do It! (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Continues from this post.

The last of Hofstede’s four cultural spectrums is masculinity-femininity.

Without pausing to get into a debate about gender stereotypes, Hofstede straighforwardly asserts that worldwide the predominant socialisation pattern is for men to be more assertive and women to be more nurturing. He simply describes these values as “usually more popular” with that sex rather than being necessarily gender specific (p. 176) and is fully aware of the occurrence of sex-role socialisation (pp. 180-181).

Having defined these labels he then looks at the survey results: in which countries do assertive values predominate and in which countries do nurturing values predominate.

Most masculine: Japan, Austria, Venezuela, Italy

Most feminine: Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Demark

The implications of this? Feminine work values will prioritise such things as:

  • Relationships with co-workers
  • Leisure time
  • A comfortable environment, including work hours, conditions and travel

Masculine work values will prioritise:

  • Earnings and advancement
  • Working on projects of importance
  • Up-to-dateness

This comes up in my day job. A survey of working Australians was conducted in 2010, which asked people, among other things, if they would prefer to have an additional two weeks of annual leave (more feminine answer) or the equivalent pay rise: about 4% (the more masculine answer).

The results were:

  • 57% Holiday

  • 43% Pay rise

So a feminine value prevailed, narrowly. This actually contradicts the most recent data from the Hofstede Centre ( which gives Australia’s culture an MAS score of 61 which means it is more masculine, although still less so than China, the UK or the USA. I guess the results are an aggregation; other questions might show different results. Moreover “holiday” does not necessarily equate to time with family, it could just as easily mean time spent jetskiing or playing golf.

Recently the (predominantly female) retail workers’ union also ran a campaign to keep shops closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, December 26, even though work on Boxing Day is paid at two-and-a-half times the normal rate of pay. Feminine values once again. Here is a summary of the campaign’s conclusion:

This index is worth remembering when trying to assist predominantly female migrant workers. If this survey is to be believed then getting a pay rise is probably not as much of a  priority for these workers as their hours and conditions of work.


  • Pocock B, Skinner N, Williams P (2012) Time Bomb: Work, rest and play in Australia today, Newsouth Publishing, Sydney


Asian Labour Update 81: Gender and Employment – Link will be added here when available

  1. marksolock says:

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  2. […] Culture’s Consequences (Part 4): Masculinity-Femininity ( […]

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