MBTI: cooked up by housewives.

I’ll be generous and assume that Dean Burnett is mostly cross about the widespread adoption – in the absence of rigorous scientific testing – of MBTI, and is probably quite affably pro-female.

And it’s probably no doubt my rabid feminist gene that caused my eyes to red-mist-over when I reached paragraph six of his piece in the Guardian.

I’ve not been MBTI’d. But I have used other psychometric tools in business. And they’ve been effective as a way to understand individuals’ behaviour, and to address dynamics within a team.

I understand that people need to work better together. That this does not always come naturally. And that shared frameworks of understanding behaviour and communication can aid collaboration and effective working. MBTI, for all its obvious polar flaws, can assist here.

But I’m no MBTI apologist. I’ve met those who wear their four letter MBTI badge with pride. For some – now that it’s been ratified by an accepted system – it’s a justification for behaving in a certain way.

What I object to here is not the criticism of MBTI. What I object to is the insidious, almost imperceptible. opening gambit of a dig at Ms Myers and Ms Briggs. We know that Dean Burnett thinks MBTI is questionable. So how does he open his attempt to discredit it?

By calling Myers and Briggs ‘housewives’. It’s a carefully chosen word.

We’re already not taking their 30 years’ or so work seriously. They were housewives.

He goes on to say that amateurs have contributed notably to science. Perhaps that gets him off my hook then.

Except I have to apply the basic ‘is this sexist’ test: would this work for a man? Is there a male equivalent of that sentence and would it mean the same thing?

No. It’s not gender neutral and there is a value judgement in there. And that’s what’s got me riled.

It has undermined a position I might otherwise have supported, had the insidious sexism not got in the way.


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