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Do Women Make Decisions Differently From Men?

 Do Women Make Decisions Differently From Men?

 

Most of the studies and research carried out in western world indicate that women make better decisions than men. Chris Bart published a survey result in which he mentioned that more than 600 Board Directors showed that women are more likely to consider the rights of others and to take a cooperative approach to decision making. This approach translates into better performance for their company. 

 

There has been very little written on this topic in the Indian context. To understand the perspective of leaders in various corporates including both men and women in Indian scenario, I conducted a dipstick. This article will cover my key observations and findings from the dipstick study I had carried out.
 
Positioning of Women: Gender equality with respect to men and women in India is still seen to be an issue. In most parts of India, women are still considered homemakers irrespective of their contribution to the family income. Male dominance exists in most parts of the country. It becomes a societal and ego issue if a husband earns less than his wife. The Indian Parliament’s debate on reservation for women in Parliament has been met with stiff opposition from the male dominated elected members.
 
Women in the Corporate World: However, despite their low ratio in the corporate workforce, women have emerged strongly in corporate world. In a dipstick I carried out to understand different opinions from both men and women working in different corporates at senior positions, it consistently came up that Business Priority plays a vital role in decision making for both the genders. Both men and women appreciate and understand that their decisions must have business alignment.
 
In a question “Do you feel women make decisions different from men”, it was observed that women surely think differently than men. While there were some neutral to conflicting views observed too primarily because of situations and circumstances under which a decision has to be taken. The overall environment around women influences their decision as well. For example, a people friendly women leader may be averse in taking strong decisions. The views in support can be reviewed in line with below –
 
1. In the area of their specialization, women are more focused at decision making than their male counterparts
2. Women tend to be concerned about building relationships and actively look from the other person’s perspective.
3. Women tend to be more interactive and cooperative, thereby inspiring a higher degree of commitment towards business goals
4. Fairness is observed to be high in women’s decisions as they take the interests of multiple stakeholders into account in order to arrive at a fair and moral decision. Men generally end up taking decisions purely based on financial implications
5. In difficult situation like laying off, men may end up favouring their friends while women will look at the good of the company.
6. A thoroughbred woman professional is no different than her male counterpart. She will go with her understanding of what is best for the health of the organization given the circumstances.
 
While most of the people believe that women take decisions differently but when it comes to choosing the decision between men and women, people from both the genders expressed their views that they won’t look at decision from a gender perspective but rather they would look for rationale and logic on the decision.
 
This was found to be an interesting observation as at the thought level both men and women felt that women’s decisions are better than men and are expected to be fair but when it comes to picking, they want to evaluate it in line with circumstances, situations or context.
 
Women as Talented Leaders: Women, like in the rest of the world, have had to struggle harder to make their voices heard, acknowledged and appreciated. In general, the Indian male still struggles with ego issues when accepting decisions made by women that are contrary to his own beliefs.
 
One important observation found in the study was that in Industry like IT, women are considered as talented leaders whereas the picture is completely opposite in the manufacturing segment. Besides, it has been a consistent observation that Corporate world in India has not matured enough to accept the importance of women as decision makers. In almost all areas or verticals, women have to outperform men to get the same rewards. Women have to struggle to make their opinion heard. They also have to work twice as hard to prove themselves. Their importance is understood but the struggle is too long.
 
Despite of these odds, there has been a sea change in the perspective of corporate world in recent times and women have started drawing a lot of respect as talented leaders and decision makers in all fields in India. We have examples of Dr. Kiran Mazumdar, Chanda Kochhar, Ekta Kapoor, Neelam Dawan, Naina Lal Kidwai, Indu Jain etc who have proved their metal to entire world. These Talented women leaders have proven that Indian women are no longer to be treated as show pieces to be kept at home. In my own case, I have worked under multiple women leaders and I have always been inspired with their decision making.
 
Challenges before Women Leaders: I believe that that the main challenge a woman leader faces is dealing with the ego of her subordinates, peers and colleagues. Other than that, the challenges of women in managerial positions aren’t any different than the challenges of women in other positions in the company (work-life balance, sexual advances, late night shifts, partying, and so on).
 
When compared to men, men are given leadership roles based simply on their performance and potential while with women many other factors are looked at – whether she has children, can she travel, can she work late hours, how will the team react to her, will she be authoritative enough to handle a team, is she emotional, amongst many others. When male leaders say that they have to be home for a child’s function or look after the parents it’s looked at with pride and the man is made out to be a sensitive, responsible person while a woman taking the same decisions under such circumstances is felt to ignore her work at office.
 
Men in leadership roles are taken seriously based on the position they occupy while a woman has to constantly prove that she is capable of occupying the position. From an Indian context, the most challenging aspect for a woman is balancing her professional and home life. Life after maternity, support form extended family to succeed in professional life etc do have impact on the professional growth of the women employee.
 
Women certainly require a conducive and enabling environment to work and prosper in any organization. This includes right set of people around who accept woman as a leader, and the other important aspect is security where woman can think and work with no fear.
 
 
The Views Expressed Here Are Personal Of The Author And Not Representative Of The Organization In Any Way. 

 

Profile: Rajiv Naithani is Director Human Resources at 3DPLM Software Solutions Limited.

 

Publsihed With Permission.