Are women more emotionally intelligent than men?

Lady Ashton

This question was first posed a few years ago and has been debated ever since. Earlier this month, the topic was once again brought to the media’s attention thanks to Lady Catherine Ashton – the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

What has been described as a diplomatic triumph, Iran agreed to temporarily halt its nuclear program for six months in return for easing of sanctions. The success of the talks in Geneva has been largely credited to Lady Ashton, who has been praised for her emotional intelligence in steering and mediating the complex situation.

Forbes contributor and author Margie Warrell was one of the many people who went on to discuss whether women really are more emotionally intelligent than men. Her interview on Australia’s Sunrise TV can be seen below:

As Margie says, emotional intelligence affects every aspect of our lives because we are naturally emotional beings. Therefore, the ability to manage our feelings and effectively perceive the emotions of others holds great advantages both at home and in the workplace.

When it comes to emotional intelligence in women, some tests have shown that they have an edge over men with it comes to certain personal skills. However, it is much more complex than that. For example, while evidence suggests women are on average better than men at some forms of empathy, men do better than women when it comes to managing distressing emotions.

Discussing gender differences is often a controversial topic. The danger is to simplify the argument to the point where you are saying woman are better than men or that men are stupid. This is compounded by the fact that emotional intelligence is often confused with IQ.

Although there are clear advantages to having high levels of emotional intelligence, both genders have their own strengths. Men are good at insulating themselves against distress so they can stay calm and focus on finding a solution to a problem. On the other hand, the ability of women to tune into the emotions of others helps them to nurture and support others in trying circumstances.

As Margie says at the end of her interview, emotional intelligence is something that increases as we get older. It is also a skill that can be learnt. Rather than discussing whether women have more emotional intelligence than men, a more productive question would be “How can I increase my own emotional intelligence?”



Written by

Hello, I’m Emilie Myers and I’m a People Development Specialist helping managers and teams work better together. I do this through 121 coaching, group sessions and the delivery of leadership and management programmes where in partnership with your organisation I identify the key people challenges and deliver transformational workshops to move your business forward.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply