The examples of Masculinity are obviously vast. So I’m limiting them to the few that, in my experience, actually matter when doing business (or working together).masculinity femininity

Examples of Masculinity and Femininity: Most common issues

First let’s list the most common issues when Masculine and Feminine cultures work together (maybe I’m overstating this, but there is nothing better about either Masculine cultures nor Feminine culture. They’re just different!).

  • Feedback
  • Goal setting versus Growing insight
  • Role Overlap

Masculinity ≠ Gender

A BIG misunderstanding is that Masculinity (and Femininity on the other side) are linked to Gender differences. That is not the case. The culture dimension called Masculinity says something about what society expects from people in that society. It says nothing about men or women in particular.


There are 2 forms of feedback: Negative and Positive. What is the most prominent?

Obviously Negative feedback. Most of us get much more negative feedback than positive feedback or praise. Agree?

Well for most (if not all) Feminine cultures (e.g. Netherlands and Nordic countries), positive feedback is implicit, while explicit positive feedback is seen as suspicious. In addition, from a Feminine cultures’ perspective, giving someone too explicit (and too much) positive feedback might result in the receiver actually thinking he or she “is someone“.

In more Masculine cultures (particularly Anglo Saxon countries) it is much more expected to receive also positive feedback. My advice during a cultural awareness training to feminine cultures is to put a post-it note next to their computer reminding them to give positive feedback more explicitly.

Goal Setting versus Growing Insight

An other examples of Masculinity and Femininity is the above mentioned. Goal setting being a more Masculine trait, while so called Growing Insight is much more a Feminine trait. This Growing Insight also supports the cultural need to seek consensus rather than to be (overly) decisive.

To put it black and white (which it never is): Masculine cultures stick to an agreed deadline (e.g. a release date of a piece of software; releasing a Service Pack for the bug fixes later). Feminine cultures rather extend the deadline and solve the bugs now.

Role Overlap

The last examples of Masculinity and Femininity I’d like to bring up is Role Overlap, or Societies expectations of Genders.

Simply put, in more Masculine cultures men put the garbage out and women take care of the kids. There is a greater role differentiation in Masculine cultures than in Feminine cultures.

In Feminine cultures the role overlap is much greater. Men do women’s chores and vice versa.

Examples of this are highly educated Indian women (India scores relatively Masculine). Having finished their education more often than not they end up in well paying very good jobs (in India and abroad). But most, when they are between 25 and 30, feel the pressure (mostly from the family) to quite work and have children (obviously men cannot have children. But it is rare that after having had children they return to their previous jobs).

On the other hand the percentage of women participating in the labour market (typically with part time jobs) in the Netherlands (a relatively Feminine culture) is the highest in the world.

Should you wish to read Hofstede’s book with much more examples of Masculinity and Femininity you can get it here.

Comments? Leave them at the end of this post

Chris Smit

I'm passionate about Cultural Difference. I have been helping organizations save time and money when they work Internationally for the last 19 years. I have had the fortunate opportunity to hold lectures, workshops, and consulting projects on this subject World Wide. It has made me understand my own culture much better, and appreciate the differences around the world.
I have a Master's Degree in Organisational Psychology and have lived in the USA, the Netherlands and, currently, in Belgium.
Thank you!

Chris Smit
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