RISK TAKING – Female & Male Perspectives By Mercy Karumba & Mitchell Odhiambo

Female Perspective By Mercy Karumba  -  Do you define yourself as a risk-taker or risk-averse? While this can be attributed to a personality trait, gender...


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Female Perspective By Mercy Karumba  –  Do you define yourself as a risk-taker or risk-averse? While this can be attributed to a personality trait, gender also plays a key role in determining the level of risk one can or is, willing to endure. Looking at young children, where boys will not hesitate to engage in ‘dangerous’ and rough games, girls are more reserved and will instead, find themselves engaged in ‘safer’ activities, where they wouldn’t get hurt. Boys get hurt, getup, having learned their lesson, and move on. The same is replicated as they grow older, there are more men in risky careers such as the military or engineering courses compared to women, and more men tend to engage in riskier business deals compared to women.

Women are more protective in nature and this often influences their decision-making skills as we tend to be more cautious in investing or even taking up opportunities that disrupt our comfort zone.  Would we be in a better position socially and/or economically if only we were ready to take more risks like our male counterparts? Are we bringing up our younger girls to be more risk-takers or risk-averse? I am learning that it’s good to be cautious, but it’s even better to go beyond my comfort zone –  there is less traffic there. How about we challenge ourselves not to let our gender become our limit?  Do you agree? Let check out the male perspective on risk-taking below.

Male Perspective By Mitch Odhiambo – Men are more risk takers than women who are often termed as caregivers. Even in our early years, we find that men were hunters while women were gatherers. It is often the case that  men take the front line in wars and matters of aggression while women stay behind to take care of the homes and nurture the young ones. So remarkable, it appears these inclinations are deeply ingrained in our makeup.

Men are more inclined to take risks than womenThis finding has been replicated in a variety of studies over the years with researchers pointing to economic and evolutionary reasons. A recent study by Mara Mather and Nichole R. Lighthall found that gender differences are amplified even further under stress.  Male risk-taking tends to increase under stress, while female risk taking tends to decrease under stress. One reason explained is that there are gender differences in brain activity involved in computing risk and preparing for action. This seems to be an important finding given the stressful nature of our work lives today.

Are men potentially too reckless and women too cautious in these scenarios? What are the implications? One implication might be that, under stress, men and women working together would make smarter risk-taking decisions than either gender alone. This is a topic ripe for further exploration. For example, we’ve seen videos on why women live longer than men that amplify the importance of finding that balance. Men in some instances take it too far; playing with fire, balancing on tightropes, jumping over cliffs into pools of water. In fact, if you notice amongst couples, there are things the husbands are forbidden to engage in by their wives e.g. playing dangerous games with their children because our perception of risks are far apart. And for sure, such restrictions have prevented multiple disasters whose numbers remains unknown.  Let me know your thoughts below on the subject.  Until we speak again, I am your host Mitchell Odhiambo. Welcome to a man’s world

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