Prefatory Note
In 2012 the Dean of the School of Humanities at Strathmore University invited me to give a series of lectures on the Cardinal Virtues - trying to stress those aspects which may be of more particular importance for women. The four lectures went well and drew a considerable audience. They also provoked many questions - and queries.
There were three main queries at the start: 1) why I was treating these virtues in the context of woman (and, so it was implied, not in the context of man); 2) whether I thought they were more important for women; and 3) whether I believed that they should be lived in a distinctive way by women.
Complex but pertinent queries. My brief answer to the first was that I was simply taking up an invitation extended to me. To the second, I replied in the negative - all these virtues are equally important for man and for woman. To the third I hazarded a "Yes", qualified by a "Depending..."
I would connect the "Yes" with the topic of sexual identity, as I did in the introductory ideas prefacing the first lecture which are to be found below: "It is simply not possible to acquire a true sexual identity, and to be proud of that identity, without developing certain virtues in a masculine mode if one is a man, or in a feminine mode if one is a woman. Tenderness...‟ etc.
There is more to the "Depending". To weigh that, one would have to read the lectures right through. They were intended, after all, to provoke questions rather than to answer them.

Some Introductory Ideas
Firstly, I am going to speak about virtues; not in a theological or religious context, but simply in philosophical human terms.
Virtue is not a very popular word today. It is hard to say why, but perhaps the reason is that while everyone can have and in fact needs virtues, they cannot be acquired without an effort: an effort to rise above self-centeredness. And rising above self is not seen as an attractive proposition nowadays. Yet to rise above self is the only way to true personal fulfilment. Let us briefly consider why.
A virtue is a stable and acquired quality that makes for the fullness of a person's humanity. For we are all developing beings. What we are today is not exactly the same as what we will be tomorrow. We will have changed, probably just a little; in terms of the worth of our humanity, we will be a bit better or a bit worse; perhaps a bit better in this and a bit worse in that. In any case we will not be the same. And after a year or five years we may have become quite different: more or less sincere, more or less reliable, more or less selfish, more or less positive in attitude towards others. In a word, more or less fulfilled as human persons. More fulfilled if the habitual ways of thinking and acting in our lives are positive, are virtues; less fulfilled if they are negative, are vices.
Secondly, I am going to speak just about the four virtues traditionally known as the "cardinal virtues". They are given that title because they are regarded as the most fundamental human virtues, being the support or hinges (cardo = hinge) for all the others. These cardinal virtues are Fortitude, Justice, Prudence and Temperance.
Thirdly, I am going to maintain that while all the human virtues should ideally be acquired by everyone, certain virtues are more appropriate to men, and other virtues are more appropriate to women. When I say 'more appropriate', I often (though not always) mean more necessary. More necessary, that is, in order to develop a more integrated and developed sexual identity. Because it is a presupposition of our argument that the achievement of sexual identity is integral to full personal fulfillment (A point developed at length in my book, Man and Values, Scepter Press, ch. 9).
If this is so, then one can expect the same virtue to be expressed in a somewhat different way according to whether one is a man or woman. This difference should not be exaggerated; but it should not be minimized either. It is simply not possible to acquire a true sexual identity, and to be proud of that identity, without developing certain virtues in a masculine mode if one is a man, or in a feminine mode if one is a woman. Tenderness, for instance, is a virtue that most people would expect to find in a woman, and would consider her less of a woman if she lacked it. Yet a man too is poorly developed as a man if he has no tenderness in him. Cowardliness would be considered a main defect in a man. Yet a woman too needs to be brave and strong. An appropriate point to end our Introduction, and to go right to the cardinal virtue of fortitude.