Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions – 3. Masculinity vs. Femininity

When it comes to working with different cultures in our workplaces, it can be very useful to be aware of the cultural differences we might encounter with. I believe that the cultural dimensions’ concept from Hofstede provides a great help to all of us. I have already written about the first two dimensions, the Power Distance and the Individualism vs. Collectivism.

The third dimension is called Masculinity vs. Femininity. Let’s see, how these can be observed in the different cultures and workplaces as well.

Masculinity vs. Femininity


When it comes to this dimension, the question is whether the emphasis is on the status, achievement and success in life or the quality of life, serving others and the protection of the environment and nature are the priorities of the given country.

Traits of low Masculinity countries, a.k.a. the Feminine end of the scale


In education the average student is considered important and children tend to understate and underestimate their own performance. Men can do/study women things and women can do/study men things. It is very much appreciated if a teacher is friendly and informal and in the schools the students’ social adaptation is very important. The weaker students are encouraged through public praise and any competitive sports are extracurricular. The teachers give equal attention to boys and girls, and the children are socialized to avoid aggression.

People in the Feminine cultures are more relationship oriented and the protection of the environment is a high priority for them. They tend to solve upcoming conflicts through negotiation.

The family structures are flexible and parents believe that both boys and girls can cry, but neither of them should fight. If someone makes a mistake or fails at something, it is not considered as the end of the world, but only a minor accident or an opportunity to learn from it.

What about the work life of the Feminine countries?


We can say that intentional conflicts are avoided, they work to live and not live to work. As incentives, the free time and flexibility are favoured, just like two-way dialogues and growing insights as well. There is a smaller gender wage gap in these cultures and there are more women in the management level of the companies. People prefer fewer working hours, so that they can also have quality time with their loved ones.

Low Masculinity (Feminine) country examples: Costa Rica, Chile, Finland, Sweden, Thailand, Portugal, Netherlands.

Traits of high Masculinity cultures


In these cultures’ education the ‘elite’ student is the most important and children tend to overstate and overestimate their performance. Generally, men and women do/study different things and making a mistake or failing is considered to be a disaster at school. In the teachers the brilliance is appreciated and the public praise goes to the good students. The competitive sports are part of the curriculum and the children are socialized to fight back. Teachers tend to pay more attention to the boys and there can be large differences in the perceptual ability – boys being analytic and girls being contextual.

The high Masculinity cultures are more ego oriented, money and owning things are important. The economic growth is considered as high priority and conflicts are normally solved through force.

These cultures are more likely to have traditional family structures; they say that girls cry, but boys don’t; boys fight, but girls don’t.

What about the work life of the Masculine cultures?


They believe that conflicts at the workplace are a way to find out who is the best of all. They live in order to work – and not the other way around. Money, status and privileges are considered as incentives and people in general are very decisive at work. There is a larger gender wage gap and fewer women work in the management level of the companies. The preference of the employees is the higher salary (compared to free time).

High Masculinity country examples: China, USA, Colombia, Venezuela, Republic of South-Africa, Austria, Japan.

MAs map

Source: https://geerthofstede.com/

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