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How Women Decide: What’s True, What’s Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices

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So, you’ve earned a seat at the table. What happens next? From confidence gaps to power poses, leaning in to calling bias out, bossypants to girl bosses, women have been hearing a lot of advice lately. Most of this aims at greater success, but very little focuses on a key set of skills that ensures such success — making the wisest, strongest decisions. Every day, in every p So, you’ve earned a seat at the table. What happens next? From confidence gaps to power poses, leaning in to calling bias out, bossypants to girl bosses, women have been hearing a lot of advice lately. Most of this aims at greater success, but very little focuses on a key set of skills that ensures such success — making the wisest, strongest decisions. Every day, in every part of our lives, we face an increasing number of choices. Our futures depend not just on the results, but on how well we handle making these hard choices and the serious scrutiny that comes with them. But is a woman’s experience issuing a tough call any different from a man’s? Absolutely. From start to finish. Men and women approach decisions differently, though not necessarily in the ways we have been led to believe. Stress? It actually makes women more focused. Confidence? A healthy dose of self-questioning leads to much stronger decisions. And despite popular misconceptions, women are just as decisive as men — though they may pay a price for it. So why, then, does a real gap arise after the decision is made? Why are we quick to question a woman’s decisions but inclined to accept a man’s? And why is a man’s reputation as a smart decision-maker cemented after one big call, but a woman is expected to prove herself again and again? How Women Decide delivers lively, engaging stories of real women and their experiences, as well as expert, accessible analysis of what the science has to say. Cognitive psychologist Therese Huston breaks open the myths and opens up the conversation about how we can best shape our habits, perceptions, and strategies, not just to make the most of our own opportunities, but to reshape the culture and bring out the best decisions — regardless of who’s making them.  


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So, you’ve earned a seat at the table. What happens next? From confidence gaps to power poses, leaning in to calling bias out, bossypants to girl bosses, women have been hearing a lot of advice lately. Most of this aims at greater success, but very little focuses on a key set of skills that ensures such success — making the wisest, strongest decisions. Every day, in every p So, you’ve earned a seat at the table. What happens next? From confidence gaps to power poses, leaning in to calling bias out, bossypants to girl bosses, women have been hearing a lot of advice lately. Most of this aims at greater success, but very little focuses on a key set of skills that ensures such success — making the wisest, strongest decisions. Every day, in every part of our lives, we face an increasing number of choices. Our futures depend not just on the results, but on how well we handle making these hard choices and the serious scrutiny that comes with them. But is a woman’s experience issuing a tough call any different from a man’s? Absolutely. From start to finish. Men and women approach decisions differently, though not necessarily in the ways we have been led to believe. Stress? It actually makes women more focused. Confidence? A healthy dose of self-questioning leads to much stronger decisions. And despite popular misconceptions, women are just as decisive as men — though they may pay a price for it. So why, then, does a real gap arise after the decision is made? Why are we quick to question a woman’s decisions but inclined to accept a man’s? And why is a man’s reputation as a smart decision-maker cemented after one big call, but a woman is expected to prove herself again and again? How Women Decide delivers lively, engaging stories of real women and their experiences, as well as expert, accessible analysis of what the science has to say. Cognitive psychologist Therese Huston breaks open the myths and opens up the conversation about how we can best shape our habits, perceptions, and strategies, not just to make the most of our own opportunities, but to reshape the culture and bring out the best decisions — regardless of who’s making them.  

30 review for How Women Decide: What’s True, What’s Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Data shows that when women are under a lot of stress, that they tend to go to the known solution. Men will go for the risky option. Things to say - I strongly believe we should do this - This is going to be the plan - Is there anything that we haven't heard yet before I make a decision? Notes: Having strong social networks help women stay and move into high leadership roles "There's a popular misconception that women are indecisive by nature, that unlike men, women continously review their options, a Data shows that when women are under a lot of stress, that they tend to go to the known solution. Men will go for the risky option. Things to say - I strongly believe we should do this - This is going to be the plan - Is there anything that we haven't heard yet before I make a decision? Notes: Having strong social networks help women stay and move into high leadership roles "There's a popular misconception that women are indecisive by nature, that unlike men, women continously review their options, avoiding the responsibility of choice" (21) "I've chosen to focus on women's decisions in the workplace because there's a disconnect in the literature and because so many women suspect that they're to blame for the way their discussions are judged once they walk into the office" (23) "They wonder if their career challenges and sense of disadventage are of their own making or if there's something systemic going on.." (23). "Some researchers say that women are better at reading social cues because of higher oxytocin and lower testosterone levels" (43). "What price do women pay when they include rather than insist?" (69) Strive for transparency (92) What to say to - "You can't make up your mind" - Actually I'm considering the content. "People hesitate to take risks on women" (122) "In one on one meetings with you supervisor, make him or her aware of what you've done" (138) "If we look at social risks, women rise to the fore. What's a social risk? Taking a risk in a group; for example, speaking your mind about an unpopular issue, openly disagreeing with your boss, or admitting your tastes are different from the people around you" (140). "Women are also more likely to make a complete career change, which is considered a social risk because it means leaving one's place in the organizational chart to start all over again" (140). "Telling someone you made a mistake opens you up to being judged and rejected" (140). "Risk taking is not a personality trait. It's a skill" (167) "Men do ask for raises and seek promotionsn more often than women" (179) "Overconfidence increases the chances that each hypothetical problem will become a real problem" (183) "If a woman feels humble compared to the men around her when a decision is being made, she's probably one of the most valuable assets in the room" (184) "Tips and tricks for turning up that confidence dial. First lower the pitch of your voice. Don't whisper - just talk in a lower pitch. Think of the deeper voices of Emma Stone, Kathleen Turner.. Research shows that when people talk in a lower voice, they feel a greater sense of power and confidence, and they find it easier to think more abstractly. People experience boosts in their confidence and their problem solving abilities within five minutes of starting to talk in a lower tone" (191). "..they expect women with lower voices to make better leaders and be more competent and trustworthy" (192) High power pose (193) "Women are often penalized for self-promotion while men are not" (196) "For many women, even public figures like Sheryl Sandberg, private success is more comfortable than public acclaim" (199). "Men and women both produce cortisol in response to stress, but Mather, van den Bos, and several other scientists have found that the same chemical leads to opposite behaviors in men and women. If you're a woman and your body floods with cortisol, you become more risk alert. But if you're a man and your body surges with cortisol, you become more risk-seeking. (227) "When you interpret your body's reaction to stress as something that will improve and enhance your performance, when you tell yourself, I'm glad my heart is pounding; it means I'm ready for this, then you see and hear the world differently" (250).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Loved it. It was beautiful. The author's voice walks that line of reporting and telling. The tidbits included are the highlights of my favorite books on decision making; what I've learned in many workshops on women in the workplace and some entrancing things I didn't know. For one thing: Stereotype threat - being reminded you're not part of the in group - actually harms your ability to make decisions. Stereotype threat risk assessment (more true answers, higher chance of experiencing): 1) Some of my Loved it. It was beautiful. The author's voice walks that line of reporting and telling. The tidbits included are the highlights of my favorite books on decision making; what I've learned in many workshops on women in the workplace and some entrancing things I didn't know. For one thing: Stereotype threat - being reminded you're not part of the in group - actually harms your ability to make decisions. Stereotype threat risk assessment (more true answers, higher chance of experiencing): 1) Some of my male colleagues think women are not as committed to their careers as men 2) When I think about my career progression I often compare myself to the men in my organization 3) Sometimes I think that my behavior will cause my male colleagues to think that stereotypes about women apply to me 4) I feel I am continuously switching between my feminine self and my work self 5) If I made a mistake at work I'm sometimes afraid my male colleagues will think I'm not cut out for this job because I'm a woman 6) Some of my colleagues feel that women have less ability than men in this job 7) I work in an environment that prizes stereotypically masculine qualities such as being decisive, aggressive, self-reliant, self-confident, and achievement oriented How to cope once you're in stereotype threat? Set a timer for 15 minutes, take out paper and write down one of your core values (not necessarily the highest one). For the time free write on why is this important to you(why dos it matter, who taught you it should, moments you've acted on it). "Writing about something you care about helps you cope with a threat to your identity."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nadinastiti

    Found it when I browsed all those shelves in Big Bad Wolf, then searched for its own pile because I would like to have the one with better and smoother cover (lol), but couldn't find any so I have to be satisfied with this one. No regret, because this book is somehow fits my need, because currently I am in a personal crossroads. From this book, we will learn more about decision making from both genders, how men are more risk-taking and women are risk-alert; how it also applied not only in human, Found it when I browsed all those shelves in Big Bad Wolf, then searched for its own pile because I would like to have the one with better and smoother cover (lol), but couldn't find any so I have to be satisfied with this one. No regret, because this book is somehow fits my need, because currently I am in a personal crossroads. From this book, we will learn more about decision making from both genders, how men are more risk-taking and women are risk-alert; how it also applied not only in human, but also in animals; how women should be more confident, etc, backed with real academic researches. My first thought after reading the statement that men tend to be more confident than women, eventhough the women is more competent than the men in one particular skill: "wow, no wonder we heard more about 'she could do better' than the men counterpart one in the heterosexual dating scene lmao". The best part of this book is the little summary from every chapter, so helpful!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This book was fantastic. I learned so much about how cultural expectations play into the way women decide, and the way men and women perceive those decisions. Her book applies in all aspects of life, regardless of career. The most refreshing part about this book was that the book was based in solid research. She highlights the fact that women often have better judgement than they realize. I took notes (because unlike many other self-help books, this book actually gives you solid advice of how to This book was fantastic. I learned so much about how cultural expectations play into the way women decide, and the way men and women perceive those decisions. Her book applies in all aspects of life, regardless of career. The most refreshing part about this book was that the book was based in solid research. She highlights the fact that women often have better judgement than they realize. I took notes (because unlike many other self-help books, this book actually gives you solid advice of how to start making changes) and was completely engrossed! One great suggestion was to write one line in a journal every day about a decision you made (since we often can't remember the reason we made decisions looking back) She said: "We women need to send messages to ourselves. The world sends a lot of doubt our way and we can counter it with our own understanding and careful thinking. We often have better judgement than we realize, than we remember, and we just need a little reminder from ourselves of how wise--and sometimes brave--we are."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This was a very interesting book, not just about how women's minds work, but about the science behind how all our minds make decisions. My notes to self: -When facing a stressful decision, force yourself to come up with at least 2 more options than the first one that comes to mind in order to avoid being forced into believing "desperate times call for desperate measures" is the only strategy. -Remember, if you pay a lot for advice, you'll be way more likely to take it, even if you know it's bad. -O This was a very interesting book, not just about how women's minds work, but about the science behind how all our minds make decisions. My notes to self: -When facing a stressful decision, force yourself to come up with at least 2 more options than the first one that comes to mind in order to avoid being forced into believing "desperate times call for desperate measures" is the only strategy. -Remember, if you pay a lot for advice, you'll be way more likely to take it, even if you know it's bad. -Older people tend to forget the negative aspects of their lives and act on a positivity basis, which can be great for their happiness, but hard on family caretakers/finances/living situations. Remember, when helping them make good decisions, ask them what they would recommend for another person in their situation and talk to them while they are engaged in a task. -Woman are often trusted to be put in charge during a crisis when they haven't been before--putting them at a disadvantage because then they are newer to the scene AND suddenly managing a crisis. It isn't a good set up for success. -Organizations with both women and men on their boards are something like 40% more successful than organizations with just men. -Women have developed a coping mechanism of negotiating during stress because they can't flight or fight because they were the ones with the kiddos to protect during a crisis. You try running carrying two toddlers. -Men, however, are more likely to act more rashly during a conflict because they still have the option or flight or fight. This can work to their/the group's advantage. -Women who make the same risky business choices as men with negative effects are often described as "overly emotional" and seen as not trusty-worthy, while men are described as "human and able to make a mistake now and then". -So, strategy: frame your risky choices as those that will help the herd, because a choice a woman makes while "tending and befriending" will help put her back in the trust-worthy camp.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Feliciano

    One of my problems with non-fiction is that some of them are super boring, they are not able to keep my attention for long enough. However, this one was very interesting . The way the author was able to provide researched data and helpful examples that made me want to continue reading and learn more about the information she was explaining. Also, I really enjoyed that, even though the title suggests that is book is only for women, this book was able to provide example on the difference between m One of my problems with non-fiction is that some of them are super boring, they are not able to keep my attention for long enough. However, this one was very interesting . The way the author was able to provide researched data and helpful examples that made me want to continue reading and learn more about the information she was explaining. Also, I really enjoyed that, even though the title suggests that is book is only for women, this book was able to provide example on the difference between men and women which makes the book for everyone. I really enjoyed this book and fully recommend to those interested in learning about the decision-making process.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Wagner

    This isn't just another girl power pick-me-up book. Nor does it pander to the manly men's business world as norm and say "play by their rules if you want to win their game". This book contains solid science, real strategies, and a healthy dose of optimism. I really surprised myself by enjoying it, taking notes, and recommending it. Most of us can use help making important decisions -- I do! This book's great for women but will also be interesting for male managers who want to improve their busin This isn't just another girl power pick-me-up book. Nor does it pander to the manly men's business world as norm and say "play by their rules if you want to win their game". This book contains solid science, real strategies, and a healthy dose of optimism. I really surprised myself by enjoying it, taking notes, and recommending it. Most of us can use help making important decisions -- I do! This book's great for women but will also be interesting for male managers who want to improve their businesses and/or learn more about the misconceptions about differences between genders in the business world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wiebke Kuhn

    Interesting examples that are chosen to make it easy to recognize myself linked with data, research projects and compelling insights have made this a useful read. Some of the points to take away -- we still live in a work environment dominated by masculine preferences; if women want to be successful without the constant doubt and stereotype threat, we need to change the physical work environment. Do pre-mortems to think through major decisions. Support each other when we take risks, even and espe Interesting examples that are chosen to make it easy to recognize myself linked with data, research projects and compelling insights have made this a useful read. Some of the points to take away -- we still live in a work environment dominated by masculine preferences; if women want to be successful without the constant doubt and stereotype threat, we need to change the physical work environment. Do pre-mortems to think through major decisions. Support each other when we take risks, even and especially when we fail.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Important and informative book. Huston speaks directly to women and men about decision making, leadership, and unfolding careers. I have way too often been the only woman on a committee and felt the double binds women are entangled in from stereotype threat and traditionally male ways of knowing and acting, which results in lowered self-confidence and cognitive overload. I wish I had had a guide like this 30 years ago, but I'm glad it's available now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Bartholomew

    Well articulated arguments of gender discrimination that occur in society, focusing on the unconscious judgments and decisions made by individuals. Taking from the principles talked in detail in Thinking Fast and Slow, as well as other modern psychological, Therese applies them to how women make decisions and how they are viewed for those decisions.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paigez

    I translated this book into Chinese last year. Like all books I have translated, I have mixed feelings toward it and cannot possible give it a fair enough critique. Therefore, I’ll refrain from doing that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    Interesting book, has strategies to not only help you decide but to keep your from questioning your decisions in the future.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I learned some interesting tidbits which I think will not only help me but also help how I relate to other women in the workplace. I definitely plan to start keeping a 1 sentence journal.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Solid insight as an introduction to psychology in sexes. Would recommend.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arlene Kropp

    This had so much unusual and helpful information! What a fascinating subject.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alisa

    This is an excellent book... with many examples and studies.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Polly

    EVERY WOMAN should read this book! Content is supported by research but written in an accessible style. Each chapter ends with practical applications. Can't stop talking about this one.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amber Roberts

    Wow, would recommend to everyone!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karoliina

    Read it until page 109. I think right now it wasn’t my time to read it, might come back to it when I feel it’s right.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Weber

    Really great Malcolm Gladwell-type book detailing research on gender issues.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Silverman

    Absolutely terrific! It was like going back to a graduate school cognitive science seminar (albeit with no discussion). The work is solid and based on quality research - I'm not saying that simply because she references one of my Harvard University mentors. Dr. Huston does a terrific job tying decision-making theory to real-world examples and then pointing out the implications. She does it masterfully. As a clinician, I work with very successful women. Indeed, I have gotten to know some of the mo Absolutely terrific! It was like going back to a graduate school cognitive science seminar (albeit with no discussion). The work is solid and based on quality research - I'm not saying that simply because she references one of my Harvard University mentors. Dr. Huston does a terrific job tying decision-making theory to real-world examples and then pointing out the implications. She does it masterfully. As a clinician, I work with very successful women. Indeed, I have gotten to know some of the most successful women in America (business, finance, acting...). These women are outliers and this book does not necessarily describe them - although they certainly understand social barriers. Rather, this book describes how the rest of us males and females differ in the way we make decisions. For example, why we take risks in some conditions and not in others or what the implication may be for a woman who acts democratically compared to a woman who acts in an authoritarian manner when in a leadership position. Absolutely terrific!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nan Narboe

    The writeup interested me and reading the book convinced me. There are gender-based differences — and it's freeing, not limiting or insulting, to call attention to them. In this case, the discovery one more time that "It's not just me," is more than a relief: It's a tool kit.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cyndie Courtney

    An extremely important book about society often forces women to consider decisions in different ways because of the expectations placed on them, how this honestly can make them very helpful in making group decisions for companies, and how we can both take advantage of this and think about women in leadership to help create a more fair world. A wonderful book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Warren

    Lost a star for using Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos as a good example.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily Briano

    This book is geared towards women in a business setting. I had hoped for more examples of making personal decisions, but a lot of the information still rings true. One thing I will use instead of pro-con lists is the idea of the "look back" where you ask yourself to imagine in one year, what is something you wish you had done or that you would be glad you did. For example "Looking back, I'm so glad I ____" or "If I hadn't _____ this year, I would really regret it." The idea of a one-sentence dai This book is geared towards women in a business setting. I had hoped for more examples of making personal decisions, but a lot of the information still rings true. One thing I will use instead of pro-con lists is the idea of the "look back" where you ask yourself to imagine in one year, what is something you wish you had done or that you would be glad you did. For example "Looking back, I'm so glad I ____" or "If I hadn't _____ this year, I would really regret it." The idea of a one-sentence daily journal is helpful. I love the idea of being a "historian of [one's] decisions" and recording your decisions so you can accurately reconstruct what you were thinking and feeling at the time. "This will help you remember what mattered most at the time, the wisdom you had at that juncture." (295). "We women need to send messages to ourselves. The world sends a lot of doubt our way and we can counter it with our own understanding and careful thinking. We often have better judgement than we realize, than we remember, and we just need a little reminder from ourselves of how wise--and sometimes brave--we are." (298)

  26. 4 out of 5

    G.G. Silverman

    I have read many, many business books in my lifetime, and few have hit me as hard as this one. Exceptionally well researched, with tons of data, this book will open your eyes toward the deep-rooted bias against female decision-makers in the business world, and shares strategies for both women and men to counteract these biases, and how women's decision-making style can ultimately be tools for positive change. Everyone should read this book—managers, world leaders, workers, parents. You will be a I have read many, many business books in my lifetime, and few have hit me as hard as this one. Exceptionally well researched, with tons of data, this book will open your eyes toward the deep-rooted bias against female decision-makers in the business world, and shares strategies for both women and men to counteract these biases, and how women's decision-making style can ultimately be tools for positive change. Everyone should read this book—managers, world leaders, workers, parents. You will be a better person for it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bruell

    From the minute I started reading this book, I wanted to be friends with the author. She writes very well--none of that annoying non-fiction style of spelling everything out ad nauseam, but at the same time, she doesn't make points that have been supported by only one small study--she makes sure that she finds multiple studies that reach the same conclusion. The title sort of turned me off, and some of the more business-related examples weren't all that relevant to me, but I still learned a lot From the minute I started reading this book, I wanted to be friends with the author. She writes very well--none of that annoying non-fiction style of spelling everything out ad nauseam, but at the same time, she doesn't make points that have been supported by only one small study--she makes sure that she finds multiple studies that reach the same conclusion. The title sort of turned me off, and some of the more business-related examples weren't all that relevant to me, but I still learned a lot and really enjoyed all the fascinating studies she talks about.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    If you read the excellent Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and Thinking, Fast and Slow still want more… If you read the excellent Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and Thinking, Fast and Slow still want more…

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tai Tai

    Retitled: How Women (Should) decide is another read that tries to fit social-scientific/behavioral economic studies to add meat to a boney, self-help premise. Only until the near end does the author cite concrete evolutionary science as the underlying root for women's choices.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carling

    This is my second time listening to this book and I will probably read it again after this, as I have already gotten something more out of each time I read it. If you're not a woman, you would get something out of this book, too!

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