Women and Public Policy Program Seminar Series

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.

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