I suspect it begins in the delivery suite where a male is greeted with: "Ah, a big, strong boy" and a female with: "Oh, what a sweet, little girl." And on it goes, forever after. Girls still learn that caution, co-operation and negotiation are generally acceptable ways to carry on. Boys get away with pushing all the buttons or seeing who can pee the highest over the fence with an infinitely forgiving: "Ah well, boys will be boys."
And thus we come to the credit crunch. It was, according to one former, female, City trader of my acquaintance, the boys will be boys syndrome writ large. "Dicks on the table," was how she put it. Rather indelicately, I thought, but then she had tried to survive three years of "learning the lads' lingo".
She didn't muster much sympathy for her former colleagues as they were ordered to empty their desks. "I told them so," was all she had to say.
Which is pretty much what happened in Iceland. Halla Tómasdóttir runs the only financial company still recruiting after the disaster that saw three Icelandic banks nationalised and the country effectively squeezed out of the foreign exchange markets. It has long been her practice to employ mainly women. She warned the premier, six months before the crisis, that a financial model, run by a young, male elite and based on bonus-driven risk-taking and aggressive international expansion, was unsustainable.
The lesson appears to have been learnt, albeit too late for those charities whose hard-earned funds have been put in serious jeopardy. Two women have been appointed as chief executives of the two biggest banks. One government official was reported to have said: "Now the women are taking over. It's typical - the men make the mess and the women come in to clean it up."
You should go and see this video.