If You’re a Short Woman, over 50, & Your Parents Didn’t Go to University….

…then I’m sorry to have to tell you but  you’re probably very risk averse! And here’s why:

In 2004 a validated survey of over 22,000 individuals was taken to determine attitudes to risk taking with money. The analysis reveals several facts:

(1) Women are less willing to take risks than men, at all ages;

(2) Increasing age is associated with decreasing willingness to take risks;

(3) Taller individuals are more willing to take risks;

(4) Individuals with highly-educated parents are more willing to take risks.

Speaking as a 5ft 3inch (and almost a half) woman over 50 whose parents didn’t go to University can this be true? Am I risk averse?

The Institute for Leadership and Management also tells us women are risk averse too and this may account for why we don’t progress onto boards etc. Maybe so but there are a myriad other reasons too.

The implications are that being risk averse is a bad thing (psst, can I just throw in five words here -western world financial melt down).

Maybe definitions of risk are very male? Maybe the female of the species has a different idea of what constitutes a risk? Maybe we are good at evaluating possible negative outcomes? Maybe having babies makes us more protective? (But surely that would be true of chaps too?)

Your Views

Tell me what you think? When did you last take a risk? What constitutes risky behaviour for you? Do you take risks at work? In your experience are you less risk averse than your male counterparts? If so, what do you think possible solutions could be?

Photo Credit by Sanja Gjenaro

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Posted on June 1st, 2011 by

7 Responses to “If You’re a Short Woman, over 50, & Your Parents Didn’t Go to University….”

  1. laura says:

    I have found that being 5’2, I tend to get seen by other people as someone to look out for, protect and that I may be more fragile than taller people (men particularly seem to think this). Endearing briefly but sometimes it feels that if show your strength of character then you looked at as a ‘fierce little thing’ rather than strong or confident. I read somewhere too that more board directors were tall people!

    • Jane says:

      Hi Laura! I have a son who is 6ft 4in and occasionally mess about standing on a chair to see the world from his perspective. It’s very strange to be always looking down! We do tend to assume tall people have power. 😉

  2. Hmmm.. well since you know me Jane .. what I lack in height I make up for in mouth …

    With regard to risk .. it depends .. I will not risk my reputation or money (but I am Scottish!) but I will take a risk on something in life that will make me happy ..

    • Jane says:

      Hi Jayne! And Jayne C, and Ceri! I think any woman who takes the decision to run her own business is one of life’s risk takers. Three very interesting businesses! Ceri, is that you in a national news paper today? You’ve certainly hit the Zeitgeist! Continue to confound the stereotyping! Thank you all.

  3. Jayne M Cox says:

    This is interesting! I do think I take quite a few risks. In my Coaching practice I’ve risked being different and have enjoyed that fact. Personally I do think it’s an individuals perception of what risk is to them. Many things I do have the potential to go either way, the outcome isn’t clear. I love to trust the gut instinct and believe with the mistakes and losses comes learning.

    Great blog Jane, thanks!

  4. Ceri says:

    At 5ft 6 ins I have always been known as a bit of a risk taker in my career- from leaving a successful international role to take up a position with a ‘start up’ in another country, to then leave a well paid role to set up my own business. Most recently I changed career direction completely as I approached 50 to set up a website which I felt was needed to inspire women to make the most of the second half of their lives! With each risk rewards have followed- not necessarily financial- but the risk of not following my instincts and wondering ‘what if’ would have been greater. With each risk I have always been true to myself and taken an original approach- always breaking new ground and setting fresh standards in my field. The fact that others have followed and emulated many of my ideas at least shows that I have been on the right track. Some of my methods have been adopted by large corporates. Who knows what risks I will continue to take in the future!

  5. Ceri says:

    Hi Jane- you have me dashing to the newsagents! I knew I was in national press last week and have been told I will be in a feature in abt 2 weeks- missed today’s! 🙂

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