Creative wiring

Tape_cubby_roseWhen viewing creative artistic fields from the perspective on those that perform and those the produce the original concepts,  you will note that there is a large number of woman in performance. In fact the number of female singers, actors, dancers continues to grow because their career is typically shorter than for males in the same field.  Their career typically moves downhill in mid-thirties because bias against age is greater for women than men. It doesn’t take much thought to realize this is due to the premium place on women’s appearance. However this third decade is the peak time for creative production to begin, according to some theorist/ psychologist. So moving from singer to songwriter, dancer to choreographer and actor to director becomes much more difficult for women.

But that is only one tiny fraction of the answer to the question “Why as there so few well-known creative females?”  Many men in the performance areas never make the switch into producing. The question remains as to why there are so few women writers, artists, and composers. There are three main avenues to follow in trying to determine this.

  1. Differences between the mental processes of men and women.
  2. How society views men and women in creative fields
  3. The perception that men and women have of themselves

First let’s look at the differences between the minds of men and women. Read almost any lay person level discussion of the differences between men and women’s brains and you will women are better at language processing and men at spatial and numerical processing.  Interestingly enough the main creative field in which women are equally as well known as men is creative writing.  Helson’s study of the psychology of creative writers and mathematicians found that “creative male writers were more like creative women mathematicians and women writers than they were like creative male mathematicians.” But although prolific, woman do not dominate the field of writing, despite a stronger ability at processing language. They also tend to not be as highly regarded in art, and almost non-existent in music composition.

Getzels and Czikszentmihalyi  administered a battery of tests to female and males studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. They found that the females had much higher spatial ability than the average female; their scores in spatial perception were close to the male range. However, the male art students still had even higher spatial ability. When it came to personality assessments,  both groups were unconventional, imaginative and independent. In fact, the similarity went beyond that. The female artists tended to show more masculine values than their female peers in college, while the male artists showed more effeminate personalities traits than other male college students. This finding caused  these researches to conclude  that “The psychology of creative men is a feminine psychology by comparison with less creative men; the psychology of creative women is a masculine psychology by comparison, with less creative women.”

In Priito’s studies of gifted females and male teenagers in music performance and composition, there was no significant difference between the personalities of the two groups. It appears that the similarity between mental processes and personality of creative men and women is greater than that between the average Joe and Jane. The difference comes when the time arrives to make the commitment to stay in the field.

Photo by S.L. Listman
Piirto, J. (2000) Why are there so few? (Creative women: Visual artists, mathematicians, scientists, musicians), Davidson Institute for Talent Development
This entry was posted in Creativity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Creative wiring

  1. joanne2813 says:

    Very interesting and indeed, surprising, to me. Yet, it does make sense. Look at how even today female authors will use initials in their name to show neutrality. S.E. Hinton wrote the Outsiders. J.K. Rowling and the Potter series. In regards to commitment to the arts versus commitment to any career – in this day and age, men can focus completely whereas often women are juggling family issues, etc. Not an excuse, just the way of the world too. So the creative brains are different, but I think life and environment play roles too.

    • knlistman says:

      Actually I agree with you that having the luxury to focus is the dividing issue. I’ve noticed that occurring in the writer’s group that I attend. I’m planning to focus on that in my next blog article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s