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Gender and Decision-Making: Competitive, Risky and Entrepreneurial Decisions


There has been an abundance of recent literature related to how gender affects decisions in competitive, risky and entrepreneurial environments, mostly noting that women are less likely to compete, are more risk averse and less likely to embark on an entrepreneurial career path. This dissertation challenges those findings, presenting three chapters that address each of the environments in question. The first chapter shows that decisions to compete are moderated by the domain in which the competition is to take place; and shows that gender stereotypes associated with competence in the domain influence the decisions of each sex to compete in the given domain. The second chapter explores the well-accepted finding that women are more risk averse than men. This chapter investigates when gender differences in risk aversion are likely to occur and when they are less likely to manifest. We find that gender differences in risk aversion are likely to occur in decisions where the probability of outcomes is known, as in chance games, and objectively quantified, and less likely to occur in decisions where one must rely on their own internal subjective expectancies of the probabilities of outcomes - the kind of decisions that dominate our day-to-day decision-making. We propose and test the mechanism that is responsible for producing gender differences in risk aversion: one's subjective expectancy of the outcome. In decisions under risk, when subjective expectancies are accounted for the gender difference in risk aversion disappears. The final chapter presents a model of entrepreneurial decision making drawing from social-cognitive psychology and judgment and decision-making research. The model examines the influence of anticipated social resources and socio-cognitive processes that operate in tandem to affect entrepreneurial decisions such as venture selection and investments. Findings support the influence of gender role cognitions in evaluative perceptions and decisions related to venture initiation and investment decisions; suggesting that social identity biases exert considerable power over who is likely to pursue different types of entrepreneurial opportunities.

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