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Gender differences and leadership

A few weeks ago, Dan Pink shared the results of a Swedish study that analyzed risk taking by gender on the game-show Jeopardy…

Women played more conservatively than men regardless of their opponents. On average, they wagered about 40% of their winnings on Daily Doubles, while men wagered about 60%.

Second, women took smaller risks when playing against two men than they did against a woman and a man or against two women. Women wagered about 22% less in male-dominated settings than they did in female-dominated ones. Men’s wagers were not affected by the gender of their opponents.

Third and perhaps most interesting, “Although women decrease their wagers when competing in a male-dominated environment, women do not differ from men in their performance in these games.”

In other words, women took smaller risks — especially when competing against men — but did just as well as men in their total results.

These findings remind me of the chapter on gender differences in Brain Rules, a great book by John Medina.

The takeaway in his book was the same: Men and women behave differently. Men and women handle stress differently, process certain emotions differently, and remember details differently. And according to the (far from conclusive) Swedish study, they also approach risk differently.

There’s a clear business benefit to having both men and women in leadership positions. It creates a more holistic leadership team.


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Have any questions or comments about this post? Email me at chris@gomakethings.com or contact me on Twitter at @ChrisFerdinandi.

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