In a February 8, 2009 New York Times op ed column entitled "Mistresses of the Universe," Nicholas Kristof notes that senior staff meetings of Wall Street types resemble “a urologist’s waiting room” and suggests that "Wall Street could use an infusion of women as well as cash."
Having more women in financial services might counter some of the risk-taking and competitive urges fostered by high levels of testosterone and would improve decision-making, according to the research Kristof cites. In addition to suffering from testosterone-overload, men are also found in the studies he cites to be “particularly likely to make high-risk bets when under financial pressure and surrounded by other males of similar status. Women’s risk-taking was unaffected by this kind of peer pressure.”
Of course, women managers also have their Achilles heels. The January 2009 Harvard Business Review includes a 360-degree feedback study by Herminia Ibarra and Otilia Obodaru that finds that female leaders are perceived to be strong in traits such as tenacity and emotional intelligence, but trail men in one important aspect: their superiors, peers and subordinates say that women leaders lack vision.
Better Performance in Diversity. Regardless of our specific gender strengths and weaknesses, the data on the advantages of having diverse management is piling up. Two separate studies in 2008, one by Catalyst, an organization that supports expanded opportunities for women at work, and the other by management consultant McKinsey & Co., looked at gender in management and found that companies with more female executives perform better.
Why would that be? University of California-Irvine professor emeritus Judy Rosener says brain scans prove that men and women think differently. Rosener says she’s concluded that a company with a mix of male and female leaders, with their differing attitudes regarding risk, collaboration and ambiguity, will outperform a competitor who relies on the leadership of a single sex.
Women aren’t better, Rosener says, but they bring to the table something that men don’t.