Are Women Better Decision Makers?

recent article in the New York Times by Therese Huston says yes!—women are better decision makers in stressful situations. Huston cites research by several neuroscientists that shows that in low-stress situations, women and men make decisions about risk in similar ways. When stress is introduced, however, women bring some unique strengths to the table that result in better decisions. Here are some examples of the positive impact women have had:

  • Credit Suisse examined 2,400 global corporations from 2005 to 2011, which includes the years just before and after the financial crisis, and found that companies with at least one woman on their board outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards by 26 percent.
  • Several studies show that investments run by female hedge-fund managers outperformed those run by male managers.
What are some of the unique strengths that women bring to decision making in stressful situations? Huston cites research that shows
  • Women are more attuned to the needs of others in stressful situations, while men become more egocentric.
  • Women under stress take less risk. They look for smaller, surer successes that produce better long-term results, while men under stress take big risks when the chances of success are low.
  • Women under stress tend to look for common ground. Remember the women of the United States Senate who were able to bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans to end the government shutdown in 2013?
The problem is that women often don’t get brought in as leaders to high-risk situations until the organization is already in a crisis—think about Mary Barra at General Motors. Organizations and governments need more gender balance at the top before they are in a crisis—to prevent the crises from occurring. Want good decisions in stressful times? Hire and promote more women!]]>

3 thoughts on “Are Women Better Decision Makers?”

  1. It is a very dangerous thing to promote the idea that women make better decissions than men because if this idea ever gets embraced by US corporations and indeed all organizations men would be relagated to picking up the garbage. All institutions should want the best decission makers in their organizations and if women make the best decissions than only women would be employed.Any institution that dared hire a man would be advertising that it doesn’t have the best leaders.
    But me and my deep thinking strongly suspects that the reason having women in the board rooms of u.s.corporations and businesses in general has nothing to do with the alleged susperiority of women
    and everything to do with the diversity that women bring to the table that acounts for why we need more women in today’s business world because currently there are too many male decission makers.
    Therefor lets stop the susperiority talk and stress diversity between the genders. Lets remember that there is more and more evidence that our ealiest societies were matriachies. Apparently that was not proving to be a utopia either because these matriacies were over thrown and replaced with patriachies.
    Now these patriachies haven’t work out all that great either. Perhaps the answer is that men are strong where women are weak and women are strong where men are weak. So neither a patriachy nor matrachy be. Lets form a hybrid society of parity between the genders in leadership.
    Warm Regards
    Deep Think

    • Hi, Dee. Thanks for your comment. I do agree that women and men bring different perspectives to the table, and that organizations need diverse perspectives to make good business decisions. I also think it is exciting to see these studies showing women’s strengths. I really think we need all the data we can muster to break through the unconscious biases that keep the glass ceiling in place. I appreciate that you have voiced your perspective so clearly!


Leave a Comment