I was killing some time recently at Barnes & Noble and remembered a number of readers telling me to take a look at Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I picked up a copy and found it helpful in understanding the traits of those of us who tend towards introversion. From the description at Amazon:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
The author looks at our society and how it is geared towards extroverts, from schools to companies who like people who are team players and like to work in groups. The book teaches the reader how to be more of an extrovert when it is called for but also how to cherish solitude and the listening and analytical skills that often come with being an introvert.
Who are more introverted: men or women? In an interview at Time.com, Susan Cain is asked about the difference in introversion and extroversion between the sexes and says:
Men are ever so slightly more likely to be introverts than women. I think the more interesting question is, How does this play in with gender roles and what expectations people have? It goes both ways. On one hand, men are expected to take charge and be forceful and dominant, so it can be hard [to be introverted]. But there’s also still the model of the strong silent type.
For women, it’s more culturally acceptable to be introverted, although it’s getting harder and harder. Being shy used to be idealized [for women]. On the other hand, there’s the expectation to be social and vivacious and a good hostess and to make other people feel comfortable. It’s a matter of finding which available gender role suits your style.
My thoughts? It seems to me that our society emphasizes women who are extroverts as the ideal, at least to feminists, hence slogans like “well-behaved women seldom make history.” Also it seems to depend on how and what people say as to what is “culturally acceptable.” If you are a liberal woman who is extroverted, the society listens; if you are a libertarian introvert, not so much — except to say “shut up.” A feminist, liberal man who loudly vocalizes special rights for women and denigrates his fellow man is typically accepted in the academic and political communities; an introvert for men’s rights, not so much.
Any thoughts on extroverts and introverts and the way that our society views them?