Gender difference in risk-taking might be shaped by culture: study
CGTN

The different approaches to risk taking might not be inherent and could be shaped by culture and social environment, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous studies have shown that women are more risk-averse than men, and more likely to opt for a smaller sure thing than an all-or-nothing gamble, but Chinese and American economists found through a new research project that the difference could shift at least in children.

"If we can teach girls that they should be more risk loving, perhaps that will shape their future decision-making," said Elaine Liu, associate professor of economics at the University of Houston.

Girls and boys participate in school activities. /VCG Photo

Girls and boys participate in school activities. /VCG Photo

Liu and Zuo Xuejing with China's Fudan University looked at the behavior of children from two cultures, the matrilineal Mosuo people and the traditionally patriarchal Han. They attended the same school in China's Yunnan Province.

They found that when the children first began their elementary study, Mosuo girls took more risks than Mosuo boys, while Han girls were less likely to take risks than Han boys in keeping with their parents' cultural norms. But that began to change as the children were exposed to the other culture.

The Mosuo girls took more risks than Han girls at the beginning, but their attitudes toward taking risks become more similar as they spent more time together, showing a sign of convergence.

A Mosuo woman has her baby on her back. /VCG Photo

A Mosuo woman has her baby on her back. /VCG Photo

They studied children's attitudes through a lottery-style game, offering the students six choices ranging from a guaranteed three-yuan payout to a 50/50 percent chance of winning 10 yuan (about 1.49 U.S. dollars) or nothing.

The gender norms could have long-term economic consequences, even potentially shrinking the gender pay gap if it led to women choosing riskier but higher-reward career paths, according to the study.

(Cover: Girls and boys play football on the playground. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency