Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out
Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Adelina M. Broadbridge and Sandra L. Fielden
Chapter 13: Risk aversion among women: reality or simply ‘doing gender’?
Conventional wisdom maintains that men are risk-takers and women are risk-averse. Additionally, empirical studies that measure risk through financial resource allocation experiments (Powell and Ansic, 1998; Eckel and Grossman, 2003) and in studies of health and safety precautions, such as seat-belt use and recreational drug use (Harrant and Valiant, 2008) support that gendered division in risk-taking. However, through our survey of over 650 managerial American women and interviews with ten women professionals, women spoke about risks they had taken, the factors that influenced their decisions, and the outcomes of those decisions. Our research indicates that women do take risks; their risk decision-making is sensitive to many gender-neutral factors; and that risk-taking has been critical to moving ahead in their careers. So why the persistence of the risk-aversion moniker for women? In this chapter, we will explore women’s risk-taking, the possible gendered dynamics that may explain why women’s risk-taking is often invisible in organizations even as they do take risks, and the factors that influence their decisions to take on those risks.
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