Creative wiring

Tape_cubby_roseWhen it comes to creativity, evidently women’s appearance is important, far more than it should be. You will the large percent of  singers, actors, dancers that are women. Their numbers continue to grow because their career is typically shorter than for males. It begins declining in their mid-thirties because the bias against age is greater for women than men. It doesn’t take much thought to realize this is due to the premium placed on women’s appearance. According to a number of studies on creativity, this third decade is the peak time for creative production. But, moving from singer to songwriter, dancer to choreographer and actor to director becomes much more difficult for women than men. Also, many men continue careers in performance, and never make the switch into producing.

That is only one tiny fraction of the answer to the question “Why as there so few well-known creative females?” There are far fewer well known women writers, artists, and composers.

First, let’s look at the claim that there are differences between the minds of men and women. Read almost any lay person level discussion of the mind they will make all sorts of assertions about differences in male and female brains that really do not exist. There is some evidence that the average woman is slightly better at language processing and average men are slightly better at spatial and numerical processing. But any examination of the brain, through scans or testing, does not reveal the gender of the person.

Interestingly enough, the main creative field in which women are almost 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 women writers…than they were like creative male mathematicians.” But although prolific, woman do not dominate the field of writing, despite slight advantage 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 males students, who had a slightly 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. There is greater similarity between the mental processes and personalities of  men and  women in creative fields, than there is between creative person and the average Joe or Jane.

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
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3 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.

  2. knlistman says:

    Reblogged this on Write about what? and commented:

    What is the difference between men and women’s brains?

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