Who is the Stronger Sex? Guess Who
There’s a lot of talk these days about surviving – from a tough economy everywhere to a plane crash in New York’s icy Hudson River. In his new book, The Survivors Club, author Ben Sherwood gets into the realm of who survives and thrives: who bounces back from job loss and who gives up, who adapts to a vanishing 401K and who hides under the covers?
There’s a lot of talk these days about surviving – from a tough economy everywhere to a plane crash in New York’s icy Hudson River. In his new book, The Survivors Club, author Ben Sherwood gets into the realm of who survives and thrives: who bounces back from job loss and who gives up, who adapts to a vanishing 401K and who hides under the covers? “After interviewing some of the world’s most effective survivors and thrivers, I discovered that women possess quite a few survival advantages over men,” Sherwood told Women For Hire.
Obviously, your chances of success depend on specific circumstances (and men have certain physical advantages), but women should take heart. According to survival experts, women – especially moms – are impressively unflinching in the face of adversity. After all, they have handled real pain. They understand sacrifice. They’re driven by a purpose greater than themselves. They’re problem-solvers and multi-taskers. They’re accustomed to delaying gratification. In short, they’re very effective survivors and thrivers.
If the ultimate measure of survival is who stays alive longest, here’s another fact: Around the world, women out-survive men every day. In the United States, the female survival advantage is around 5.3 years.
So, why are women better survivors and thrivers? There are many reasons, including:
1) Women Play it Safer: The numbers are telling. Especially in their younger years, more men die in accidents than women. More men are murdered than women. More men commit suicide than women. During the so-called “testosterone storm,” experts say, men simply do more dangerous things, like playing with guns.
2) Woman Are Better Investors: When it comes to investing, a variety of international studies show that women are more successful than men. In these studies, women’s portfolios outperform men’s by a range of one to three percent (and sometimes even more). Why? Experts say that women are more careful researchers; they take fewer risks; and they tend to be more patient, focusing on long term strategy instead of short term gain.
3) Women Deal with Pain: Women feel more pain than men – they’re more sensitive to it – but they handle it better. In fact, according to one study, women experience 40 percent more arthritis pain than men, but they cope with it more effectively; bounce back faster; and are less likely to let it take over their lives. As one pain researcher says of women: “With greater vulnerability comes greater strength.”
4) Women are Better Drivers. Risking a heated argument, consider the numbers. On average, men have a 77 percent greater risk of losing their lives in a car accident than women, according to Traffic STATS. To be sure, men are cited for reckless driving 3.4 times more often than women, according Quality Planning, a company that checks policyholder information for car insurance companies. They also get around five percent more traffic violations that result in accidents. And men are more prone to breaking speeding, passing and yielding laws. In short, guys die more often in car wrecks.
5) Women are Just Plain Healthier. When you look at the 15 leading causes of death, men outrank women (except for Alzheimer’s). Women stay alive longer because they smoke and drink less. They eat better too – especially less red meat. And they cope with stress more effectively.
Note to Men: Don’t despair. The women’s survival advantage has been eroding since the 1970s, especially as more women have gotten hooked on cigarettes. Experts say men – and women – can immediately increase life expectancy with a few changes. Eat right, move your body more, stop smoking, and de-stress. If men want to win in the gender war of survival, it’s as simple – and difficult – as that.
Ben Sherwood is executive director of TheSurvivorsClub.org and author of the new book The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life (Grand Central Publishing). He is a former executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America and senior broadcast producer of NBC Nightly News.