If men and women are the same, does that mean we'll see some changes round the braai fire? Photo: Daylin Paul

London - Ever since the dawn of creation, it has been an undisputed fact – men and women have completely different characters.

But apparently we’re quite similar.

And while it’s popular to accept the modern premise that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, it might be time to bring such theories down to Earth.

A study has found we share a vast range of identical traits.

Right down to weeping at slushy dramas on TV (men) or being an aggressive executive who’s good at maths (women), there is so much overlap between genders they cannot be sorted accurately by personality types, attitudes or psychological indicators, the report says. In other words, we both wear the trousers. Or maybe the knickers.

Researchers questioned more than 13,300 individuals on a catalogue of 122 sex-stereotyped issues, ranging from whether they enjoyed construction to how long they spoke to a friend on the phone. In most areas there was little overall difference between the sexes. Emotionally men and women often had the same attitude to relationships.

The report, from Rochester University in the US, said it would be wrong to use personality types and attitudes to sort men from women.

And when couples fall out, they are wrong to blame it on sexual differences - her stubbornness, his lack of sensitivity for instance.

For gay couples argue about exactly the same things as straight couples, the researchers told the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

They reported: “Men and women, by and large, do not fall into different groups. Men are from Earth, women are from Earth.

“No matter how strange and inscrutable your partner may seem, their gender is probably only a small part of the problem.”

Men and women believe there are differences between themselves because of attitudes that start when they are born, said report author Professor Harry Reis.

He said: “People think about the sexes as distinct categories.

“Boy or girl? is the first question parents are asked about their newborn, and sex persists through life as the most pervasive characteristic used to distinguish categories among humans.”

Out of 122 different areas of life there were very few where there was a huge gap between men and women.

The exceptions were stereotype interests - cosmetics and sewing for women, boxing and pornography for men, for instance.

The researchers said they hoped the results would end men and women being so easily categorised into distinct personality types.

They wrote: “Contrary to the assertions of pop psychology titles like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, it is untrue that men and women think about their relationships in qualitatively different ways.

“Even leading researchers in gender and stereotyping can fall into the same trap.”

Professor Reis added: “When something goes wrong between partners, people often blame the other partner's gender immediately.

“Having gender stereotypes hinders people from looking at their partner as an individual.

“They may also discourage people from pursuing certain kinds of goals.”

“Gay and lesbian couples have much the same problems relating to each other that heterosexual couples do.

“Clearly, it's not so much sex, but human character that causes difficulties.”


Sexologist John Money coined the term gender role in 1955. It includes, but is not restricted to, sexuality in the sense of eroticism.

Most societies have only two distinct, broad classes of gender roles, masculine and feminine, that correspond with the biological sexes of male and female.

However, some societies explicitly incorporate people who adopt the gender role opposite to their biological sex, for example the Two-Spirit people of some indigenous American peoples.

Other societies include well-developed roles that are explicitly considered more or less distinct from archetypal female and male roles in those societies.

In the language of the sociology of gender they comprise a third gender, more or less distinct from biological sex (sometimes the basis for the role does include intersexuality or incorporates eunuchs).

One such gender role is that adopted by the hijras of India and Pakistan. - Daily Mail