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The masculinity index was conceived by sociologist Geert Hofstede, and it describes the degree to which masculine values like competitiveness and the acquisition of wealth are valued over feminine values like relationship building and quality of life.

Japan is the world's most masculine society, with a rating of 95, while Sweden is the most feminine society, with a rating of 5. Other "masculine" cultures are USA, the German-speaking world, Ireland, United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy. "Feminine" cultures are the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, Korea, Portugal, the Middle East, and West Africa.

Despite the name, this cultural characteristic has little to do with gender roles (Germany is a "masculine" culture, but gender empowerment is high, while most Muslim nations are "feminine" cultures, but gender empowerment is low). Rather, it relates to nurturing (feminine) versus assertive (masculine) behaviors and ideals; like all of Hofstede's ratings, masculinity/femininity is believed to be engrained in the cultural mindset.

Characteristics of a masculine culture:

  • priorities are achievement, wealth, expansion, and war
  • in politics, conflicts are resolved by aggression
  • women's liberation means that women begin to participate in male-dominated areas
  • a low number of women represented in politics
  • manufacturing and business are seen as more important than arts and healing
  • the ideal icon is the soldier/warrior or successful entrepreneur
  • professionals often "live to work" (i.e. - long work hours and little use of vacation time)
  • cultural origins are in warmer and relatively mild climates where there was little need to concentrate on environmental survival, hence a low use of cooperation

Characteristics of a feminine culture:

  • priorities are relationships, nurturance, environmental protection, and quality of life
  • conflicts solved by negotiation, with aggression as a last resort
  • women's liberation means that men and women should share equal roles
  • a high number of women in politics
  • arts and healing are more important than manufacturing and business
  • the ideal icon is someone who helps and nurtures the community
  • professionals "work to live" (i.e. - short work hours and high use of vacation time)
  • cultural origins are usually from cold and/or environmentally harsh conditions where cooperation was necessary in order to survive (tundras, deserts, etc)

See also[]


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