Women’s Unique Contributions … Under Pressure

8 Jun

I read an interesting article last year about women and decision-making.

Turns out that when stress levels are low and easily managed, men and women make decisions involving risk in a similar manner. They gather information, assess costs and benefits and choose a path of action.

This similarity takes a different turn when you throw them both in a pressure cooker. When stress levels are high, it turns out that men and women are quite different

Difficult and tough decisions business journey symbol of uncertainty in a challenging financial situation and preparing for difficult solutions to problems as a yellow traffic sign on a stormy cloud background.

Researchers have simulated risk and stress in a variety of ways and the results are the same.

Men took more risks when they were stressed.  In my view, here’s the most important point made in the article.  Men “became focused on big wins, even when they were costly and less likely.” Women, on the other hand, made decisions looking for smaller, more likely successes.

It turns out that these different approaches have a lot to do with the amount of the stress hormone, cortisol, that is pumped into your system.  A Dutch neurobiologist found that in women, “a slight increase in cortisol seemed to improve decision-making performance.”

And that’s not all.

There is some evidence that suggests that when women are stressed, they found it easy to empathize and step into the other person’s shoes.  Women becomes more attuned. Men, under stress, become more egocentric.

So, when you add it all up, is there scientific evidence that would support a call for women in important decision-making and leadership positions … like in Congress?  Sounds like our unique contribution would be a welcome addition to balance the current gridlock.





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