Here we continue to examine more studies done on gender in decision making.
A particularly interesting article was done at the University of Wisconsin where they reviewed over 100 studies looking at whether men or women were better at math and verbal skills.
It studied decision making in the form of mathematical questions and problem solving amongst boys and girls of various ages. Their conclusion was that both boys and girls have fairly equal abilities. Any discrepancies were very much because of cultural biases and stereotypes.
In one particular mathematics exam, the boys and girls had similar results, except for those girls that had been told before the exam that the exam itself would indicate gender differences. These girls did not score so well in the exam. It's even more significant when you consider that all the students were in the top grade for mathematics.
So the difference in stereotypes plays a huge role in the decision making process. What somebody believes and assumes to be true about themselves drives their decision making.
This is seen in young children and how boys and girls have different toys, and play different games. The traditional boys games are 'wilder' and involve more risk than the girls ones. They are essentially learning to take on different roles.
These roles seem to be changing more rapidly than at any other time in history. Children seem to be growing up faster these days, and making more decisions at a younger age. Just consider the rise in teenage pregnancy rates.
Many studies have shown that the effect of gender in decision making is actually quite small, and cultural and stereotypical influences are probably much more important.
When you consider gender and decision making, the next thing to consider, of course, are the sexual differences, the differences that exist because of the different genetic makeup of males and females.
It is well recognized that emotions affect our thinking, when emotions are very strong for whatever reason, it is not possible to do much critical, rational thinking.
The ratios of the sex hormones in males and females is very different. And for women, very different at different times of their menstrual cycle, and, for example, during pregnancy. These hormonal fluctuations can affect emotions and in this way can affect thinking and decision making.
And there's some interesting research being done using high-tech brain imaging that indicate that there are neurological and physiological differences in how males and females think and make decisions.
Perhaps this will provide some explanations for the complexity of results that studies on gender in decision making have provided so far.
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