Men and Women May Take Different Kinds Of Risks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Thekla Morgenroth

Preferred pronouns: They/them/their
Research Fellow in Social and Organisational Psychology
Psychology
University of Exeter
Washington Singer Laboratories,
Exeter UK 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Risk-taking is often seen as an important trait that leads to economic success – for example when it comes to investing money – and career success. For example, we often hear that leaders need to be willing to take risks. Risk-taking is also strongly associated with masculinity, which leads to the idea that maybe gender differences in economic and career success can be explained by the fact that women are just too risk averse. When you look at the risk-taking literature, it appears that there is support for this idea with many studies showing that men do indeed take more risks than men.

Our research questions these ideas. We show that current measures of risk-taking are biased. They focus only on stereotypical “masculine” risk taking behaviors such as betting your money on the outcome of a sporting event or going whitewater rafting, and ignore the many risks that women take, such as going horseback riding or donating a kidney to a family member. When this bias is addressed, gender differences in risk-taking disappear or even reverse.

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