The Left-Brain Bias: Challenging India’s STEM Fixation

This perspective challenges India's strong preference for STEM careers and encourages a broader appreciation for the humanities. Remarkably, many of the world's top CEOs have backgrounds in humanities, defying conventional expectations. The video also spotlights the crucial role of empathy in leadership, a trait often naturally present in women. Through empathy, leaders can forge stronger teams, motivate employees, and persuade more effectively. The piece argues for a balanced appreciation of both analytical and empathic skills in professional settings.


India, a nation with a diverse cultural tapestry and myriad traditions, has historically exhibited a proclivity for the logical and analytical dimensions of human capability, manifesting as a collective fondness for STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Yet, the everevolving global landscape emphasizes the importance of a balanced approach, blending the analytical with the creative. This piece aims to shed light on the significance of the humanities and the power of the rightbrain attributes, such as empathy, especially in leadership roles, emphasizing their relevance in the modern era of business and beyond.

1. The Indian Paradigm – A LeftBrained Legacy:  

The Indian education and career landscape has historically been dominated by an inclination towards STEM. 

STEM Dominance: Rooted in a societal mindset that equates success with traditionally defined leftbrained professions, families often encourage pursuits in fields like engineering, medicine, and IT.

The Cost: Such a skewed approach often sidelines the arts, humanities, and social sciences – realms that foster creativity, critical thinking, and holistic understanding.

2. Leadership and the Humanities:  

Contrary to prevalent belief, a humanities background offers an exceptional foundation for leadership. 

Global CEOs – A Humanities Nexus: Astoundingly, many of the top 50 global CEOs have their educational roots in the humanities. This underscores the significance of skills like critical thinking, creativity, and holistic understanding in leading large organizations.

Beyond Technical Skills: While technical skills are crucial, leadership demands a broader spectrum of capabilities. Grafting technical prowess onto a humanities foundation often results in wellrounded leaders capable of innovative thinking.

3. The Power of Empathy in Leadership:  

Empathy, a predominantly rightbrained attribute, stands as a cornerstone of effective leadership. 

Empathy and Influence: Empathy enables leaders to understand, connect, and influence their teams. By valuing and appreciating individual perspectives, leaders can foster collaboration and team spirit.

Women in Leadership: The rise of successful women CEOs can be attributed in part to their innate empathetic abilities. Their propensity to harness this crucial leadership trait often outshines their male counterparts, leading to more cohesive and motivated teams.

4. The Need for a Shift in Perspective: 

The observations underscored by various management studies advocate for a shift in the Indian perspective.

Embracing Diversity: A diverse educational background, encompassing both STEM and humanities, promises a more holistic approach to problemsolving and leadership.

Redefining Success: Success shouldn’t be confined to conventional definitions. The stories of global CEOs from humanities backgrounds are testament to the vast potential lying beyond the realms of STEM.


As India continues to play an integral role in the global landscape, the nation’s perspective on education and career paths warrants evolution. By recognizing the power of the humanities and the indispensable role of rightbrained attributes like empathy, India can nurture leaders capable of steering the future with creativity, understanding, and inclusivity.

In the orchestra of success, both the logical notes of the left brain and the creative tunes of the right must harmonize for a symphony to resonate.

Explanation of the Quote:  

The quote alludes to the interdependence of analytical and creative abilities, akin to instruments in an orchestra. Just as an orchestra’s beauty lies in the harmony of different instruments, true success emerges from the seamless integration of both logical and creative faculties in our endeavors.

Oliver The Brainy Owl

Oliver The Brainy Owl

Oliver, whose musings speak for & to us is our Mascot. Inspired by his namesake the erudite neurologist & writer Late Professor Oliver Sacks, he shares periodically, pearls of wisdom about the brain and mind. Hailing from a long lineage that has been associated with health over millennia, Oliver traces his ancestry to Athena & Minerva the Greek & Roman goddesses of health, philosophy & magic. Not to be mistaken for his comic counterpart...

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