In a Difference Voice by Carol Gilligan

In a Difference Voice by Carol Gilligan
Just started on this absolutely thoughtful book. I have heard about this for years and found a copy in a used bookstore near my house and finally got it.

I wonder, has anyone else here read this fascinating book?

One of the differences the author addresses early in the book is the difference in values. Men tend to value rules over relationships, while women tend to value relationships over rules.
Men accept separation as primary and explore connection, while women accept connection as primary and explore separation.
Men think more in terms of “the impersonal other” and abstract relationships, while women think more in terms of “the particular other” and specific relationships.
Men tend to think of responsibility as not doing what they want, while women tend to think of responsibility as doing the things that others on counting on them to do.
Men have more anxiety about intimacy, while women have more anxiety about competitive success.

I am only about a third of the way though the book, but it it all very exciting and it is wonderfully grounded in research.

Very interesting.

Sounds good. Any updates?


Sounds like an interesting read.

I wonder how different the strength of these patterns are between our individualistic society and a more collectivistic culture.

I imagine the male characteristics/points of view would be a little less “seperated”, rule-based, and less prone to thinking in abstract (“idealized”?) relationships.

How much research takes other kinds of cultures into account?

In collective cultures a person’s self concept firstly comes from their relationships. In these cultures standing out (qualitatively) is a negative thing.

In individualistic cultures, where the men (boys in school) are treated as individuals who are to master the world and become the best they can be, are taught certain rules ofhow the world works so they can accept certain paths and take other things for granted so they can head straight for their goal.

For these men there is a dream to be realized and unless they reach that goal they are unsuccessful.

This can happen to certain goals… if they are very intelligent, have encouraging teachers, and other motivating factors, but usually they are taught to be nice and not speak up too much and play your role. Let the men do what they have to do.

Have you read any books by Deborah Tannen? She writes on similar topics. I read her her “That’s Not What I Meant!” years ago and thought it was really good.

Hi Thirst,

I was going to wait and do a review of the entire book once I had finished reading it, but perhaps I can extend that project and do a periodic chapter by chapter review first.

Chapter 1: Woman’s Place in Mans Life Cycle

This investigation into women’s development came from an unmeasured assumption about human development. The assumption was that young men and young women had the same psychological development. It was long assumed that observations and conclusion based on the psychological development of young males would be suitable to explain the psychological development of young females. Yet when researchers began more rigorously examining that idea they started to see important differences in the psychological development of young females.

The way that young men develop was originally taken as the norm in psychology. Female development was judged against that norm, and was often found lacking.

Since females didn’t make the same achievements as males and accepting the achievements of men as the proper achievements that everyone out to achieve, it seemed that females were underachievers in development. Research with more of a sociological focus and theorizing about the difference in the early life experiences of males and females could lead to a new conception of proper development.

Developing males and developing females then move from different foundations towards different goals. The trouble is that for a long time psychologists only addressed the masculine direction of development.

Specifically in the development theories of Erickson and Freud,

A difference was treated as a defect. The inability of the female to conform to the masculine path was a failing. When masculine values are the only legitimate ones that leads to difficulties with feminine authenticity.

This lack of respect for the feminine values is long standing.

The feminine path hasn’t recieved any substantial investigation from psychologists.

That may be the most important suggestion from this inquiry. This other pathway of development represents a lost possibility for every developing human. We all lose something when half of the human community’s values are discounted.

The challenge is finding a new balance between all of our foundational values.