One of the studies Gladwell referred to in Outliers was Geert Hofstede's research on cultural differences of the peoples of the World. Hofstede did this research for IBM and to demonstrate those differences he used five dimensions along which each country or ethnic group that he studied scored a particular number score. One of these dimensions is shown on the table, here left. Here's how he defines it.
Masculinity (MAS) versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. The IBM studies revealed that (a) women's values differ less among societies than men's values; (b) men's values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women's values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women's values on the other. The assertive pole has been called 'masculine' and the modest, caring pole 'feminine'. The women in feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are somewhat assertive and competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries show a gap between men's values and women's values.
This table shows the ranking of Western World countries on the MAS dimension (click capture for sharper view). There are some interesting findings if you look at it carefully. First I'd think that Spain and Portugal should have scored a lot higher. No surprises at the bottom 5 countries though... proves my point that nine times out of ten, when you see a Dutch family automobile on the road it 's always the wife that's behind the driver's wheel. Also, proves the point that the Dutch belong with the Nordic in many ways. Some companies actually do group the Dutch with the Nordic. I used to manage such an organizational country cluster in the beginning of the millennium.
What I found most pleasing is Hofstede's finding that Greeks and Belgians are virtually equal on the MAS scale. That's to prove to many friends in Belgium that their long time argument how 'we Greeks want our women in the kitchen, to raise kids and work in the fields while we are enjoying coffee, ouzo and play the comboloi at the local cafe' is actually a horse-shit claim. Numbers talk for themselves dudes!
I was astonished by the differences between the Czechs and Slovaks. These folks have been living under the same roof for ages and you'd expect they were much closer to each other culturally. Couldn't prove more wrong! It's not at all bad they did separate from each other after the fall of the Berlin Wall...
Of course I'd suspect the Italian macho's and even the Swiss (the old saying, if a Swiss loses on a bet he goes home and beats his wife) to score pretty high on the MAS scale... but, the... Austrians? And the Irish? And the English just above the Germans? And all the above more masculine than us Greeks? Oh, shoot! Makes me wanna jump off the building! Dearest Geert, are you surely sure you weren't high when you did those stats? Beats me...
In order to prepare the table above I searched the data on the net by Googling Hofstede, etc... One of the things I did on Excel was to rank the countries shown above (after filtering out the rest of the world) per each of the Hofstede dimensions. The MAS ranking is shown in this blog table. By doing this I accidentally discovered a 'mistype' that Gladwell printed on page 203 of his book where he shows the ranking per the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) as:
In my ranking that I believe to be the correct it is not Belgium at the bottom of this top five list but Malta. See the list as it comes out:
So, Belgium is actually on the eight place. The fact again that Greece is on top of this particular list beats me. Counter intuitive as it can possibly be. Definitely not me... Maybe my mum, but not my dad and sure not me...