Countering Counterstereotypicality: The Influence of Decision Contexts and Role Models on Women’s Risk Preference with Heidi Liu

October 8, 2015

Research on gender and risk taking indicates men have a greater tolerance for risk compared to women. This seminar explores the effects of gendered contextual cues on women’s risk preferences. Heidi Liu discuses experimental and archival data that finds women become more risk averse in masculine stereotypical realms in decision contexts. She shares analysis from an intervention tested to mitigate women’s risk aversion in masculine decision contexts: exposure to a counter-stereotypical role model (e.g., women succeeding in masculine-stereotypical performance domains). Speaker: Heidi Liu, Ph.D. Candidate in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School


What Works: Gender Equality, By Design

September 10, 2015

With gender equality increasingly a business imperative, in addition to being a human right, many leaders across the sectors wonder how we can get there. In the first WAPPP Seminar of 2015-16, Professor Bohnet discusses her forthcoming book "What Works: Gender Equality, By Design" (Harvard University Press 2016). Reviewing the impact of what we have been doing to date, including diversity and leadership trainings, networking, and mentorship/sponsorship programs, Bohnet proposes a new approach to leveling the playing field. Building on insights from Behavioral Economics, she argues that to overcome gender bias in organizations and society, we should focus on de-biasing systems—how we evaluate performance, hire, promote, structure tests, form groups—rather than on trying to de-bias people. Speaker: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School


Competing At All Costs: Dysfunctional Competition and Gender with Pinar Fletcher

March 26, 2015

Costly sabotage occurs when individuals risk incurring losses in order to hurt their competitors. When are individuals more likely to engage in such dysfunctionally competitive behavior? Are there any gender differences in propensity to engage in costly sabotage? Pinar Fletcher studies these questions in three laboratory experiments.


Risk in the background: How Men and Women Respond with Alexandra van Geen

October 17, 2014

Men and women respond differently to risk. Women are more risk averse than men, which has a significant impact on how they make decisions. Exploring this topic, Alexandra van Geen runs a series of experiments to evaluate under what conditions women and men are more or less willing to take risks. Specifically, she examines whether women and men are more likely to take risks when the financial reward is higher; if they are sensitive to the presence of other risks in the decision environment; or whether winning in the past makes them more likely to take risk in the future. She finds stark gender differences, including that men greatly increase risk taking after winning a lottery, while women do not. Investigating how, when and why men and women respond differently in risky environments can help close the gender gap in risk taking.