Healthy Living

Women May Be Just as Much of a Risk Taker as Men

Gambling
Image REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

Previous research has suggested men and women differ when it comes to risk taking. Several studies indicate men are more willing to take risks compared to women. However, researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, refute that theory.

In a new economic paper, research demonstrates men can be just as opposed to risk taking as women. Study author Julie Nelson suggests in her paper "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse Than Men?" that women are viewed as less trusted than men to make risky decisions.

Nelson, who is the chairman of the economics department, believes the economics and finance research in behavior differences between men and women is massively exaggerated. Nelson and a research assistant assessed 24 articles that mainly focused on gambling habits. Most papers suggested women are less likely to gamble than men.

She believes making an assertion through research that only studied women and men in regards to lottery-like games is a problem within itself.  Nelson believes the study may have errors or researchers may have misinterpreted the results. Nelson also warns by creating biases such as this one can lead to a broader cultural bias in financial decision-making and the workplace.

"Could the financial crisis that began in 2008 be attributed, at least in part, to issues of sex and gender?" she wrote in the paper. "In the wake of the crisis, several commentators asked whether women leaders would have prevented it, or whether it would have happened 'if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters'. The evidence reviewed in this essay suggests, however, that the biological sex of the financial decision-makers or regulators is likely not the most important factor."

Following Nelson's analysis, Kimmo Eriksson, a Swedish scholar, who co-authored a paper called "Emotional reactions to losing explain gender differences in entering a risky lottery," acknowledged in a blog post that his study may have had errors. 

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