Tag Archives: Stress

Why Women are Better CEOs, Presidents, and Prime Ministers

New research shows that women are far better at handling stress than men. I suppose that’s not a newsflash as most people already think that’s true, but consider the way in which this study frames it [Emphasis added]:

We consistently found the same general response pattern: while stressed women showed higher self-other distinction than women in the non-stressful control condition, men showed the converse pattern. More specifically, stressed women showed reduced emotional egocentricity bias, enabling them to judge the emotions of the other person in a way that was less influenced by their own emotional state. Moreover, their response times in the cognitive perspective-taking task decreased under stress, documenting that they were able to regulate the mismatch between their own and the “director’s” perspective faster under stress. Finally, stressed women showed a reduction of automatic imitative tendencies in the imitation-inhibition task, indicating that they were able to overcome low-level social signals interfering with their own movement intentions. Note that the latter finding is crucial. It highlights that women did not simply show an increase in other-related responses under stress – as this would have resulted in increased interference from automatic imitation. Instead, they were able to flexibly increase either self- or other-related representations, depending on the task demands which either required overcoming egocentric biases, or overcoming social interference.

As the stereotype goes, women are more “emotional” than men, so it would be much better for an organization or unit if it were managed by a man. However, this research is telling us that, when under stress, it is men who are less able to distinguish their emotional state from the intentions of those around them. It is men who are more adversely affected by stress. For women, it’s the opposite. In fact, women tend to be more prosocial [behaviour intended to benefit others] when they’re stressed. Meaning, instead of retreating inward, women are actually more helpful when they’re stressed.

This research certainly makes one think about the way that many organizations and countries are run today. Most people would agree that being a CEO, President, or Prime Minister certainly comes with oodles of stress. Unfortunately, the number of women who hold these positions is far outweighed by their male counterparts. Of course, there are a number of reasons for that, which we won’t get into in this post, but consider for a moment if the numbers were flipped. That is, what if there were more women CEOs (or high-powered leaders)? Or, what even if it was 50/50! What if the number of high-powered leaders and CEOs was 50% women and 50% men? At that point, would it be easier for folks to see, understand, and digest that women are actually better leaders and better at handling the stress?

Maybe it’s the language we use.

A quick Google search showed mixed results for “women are better CEOs.” In fact, many of the results near the top indicated that women CEOs are more likely to be fired. However, when I keyed in “women are better leaders,” I got plenty of positive results. Posts on Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, and articles talking about academic research in newspapers like The Globe and Mail.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the world during my time in it, it’s that change (usually) happens gradually. Rarely is there a massive cultural shift overnight. So, here’s hoping that research like this contributes to the realization for some that when it comes to managers and leadership, women just might have an edge over men.

ResearchBlogging.orgTomova L, von Dawans B, Heinrichs M, Silani G, & Lamm C (2014). Is stress affecting our ability to tune into others? Evidence for gender differences in the effects of stress on self-other distinction. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 43, 95-104 PMID: 24703175

A Collection of Scriptures for Guidance: Christianity, Part 8

Note: the first two paragraphs are introductory and are derived from the first post in this series. I’ll continue to repost them, in case this is your first time reading a post from this series.

When I was still a doctoral candidate at Sofia University, one of the courses I completed was “World Religions.” This was one of the classes I enjoyed the most during my time at Sofia University. I’d never had such broad exposure to the world’s religions before and this class really allowed me to gain a better understanding of them.

One of the papers I wrote for that class really tied in the fact that I was in a clinical psychology PhD program. The purpose of the paper was to collect quotes from scriptures of the various world religions that I could use with clients/patients when I became a therapist. While I’m no longer pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology, the quotes I collected could certainly be of use, so I thought I’d share them here.

Today’s collection of scriptures for guidance comes courtesy of Christianity. Enjoy!

Anxiety

I’m leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So, don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

Let not your heart be troubled. You are entrusting God, now trust in Me. (John 14:1)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:61)

Anger

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 145:8)

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Addiction

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:2)

Death

Precious in the sight of the Lord the death of his saints. (Psalms 116:15)

The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:1-2)

Now we know that if an earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)

Depression

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all of their troubles. (Psalms 34:17)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3)

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)

Grief

This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me. (Psalm 119:50)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Guilt

In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. (1 John 3:20)

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

Loneliness

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18)

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my Loving kindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

Stress

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25)

Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. (Psalm 27:1, 3)

If you liked this post, you might like one of the other posts in this series: