How Women Decide: What’s True, What’s Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices (Hardcover)
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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 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.
About the Author
THERESE HUSTON, PhD, was the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Seattle University and has spent the past fifteen years helping smart people make better decisions. She has written for the New York Times, and her first book, Teaching What You Don’t Know, was published by Harvard University Press. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband and adorable but deaf dog.
“Using a wealth of economic and social science research, Huston – a cognitive psychologist [...] – documents these stereotypes and shows how women are often trapped in situations where they can’t come out ahead, no matter what they do.…[How Women Decide] will resonate with any women trying to navigate treacherous career waters as well as with managers wondering how to increase diversity and get the best out of all their employees. One could also imagine it becoming required reading on Wall Street, where male-dominated thinking has caused so many problems.”
—New York Times Book Review
"Huston, writing in a cheerful, classroom voice, wants to give readers tools to take apart the frequently hostile response to women’s decisions...In clear, declarative prose, [How Women Decide] dips readers’ toes into stereotype threat and confirmation bias, role congruity theory, cortisol and stress studies and prospect theory."
“To decide or not to decide? All leaders face that question, but Therese Huston shows us convincingly and compellingly that women’s decisions are viewed and judged differently than men’s. I thought I had read everything I needed to read on gender differences, but, as a CEO, this book showed me a new and critically important area in which we need to be very aware of our biases and take the steps Huston recommends to address them.”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family and President and CEO of New America
"With verve, charm, and a ruthless reliance on data, [Huston] challenge[s] and ultimately disprove[s] several common assumptions about how women make decisions... Huston provides sharp observations, handy chapter summaries, and practical advice… She builds a convincing case that if businesses, government, and other organizations want to improve their decision-making at the highest levels, they need to have more women in the boardroom; and she provides women readers with concrete strategies to defuse existing stereotypes."
"Extraordinarily readable—and a profound supplement to Sandberg's Lean In."
“Insightful advice for women about decisiveness, confidence, and tackling gender bias...Useful, practical strategies based on informed analysis.”
“How Women Decide blows up several myths about female decision-making that everyone believes, women included. Through thoughtful analysis and lively, entertaining anecdotes, it teaches us what's really happening—how bias works. Every woman needs to read this well-researched and wonderfully reported book. She'll gain confidence through useful tactics for even better decision-making. Men should read it, too; they'll learn tactics that make women great leaders!”
—Joanna Barsh, bestselling author of How Remarkable Women Lead and Centered Leadership
“Ever wonder whether ‘women's instinct’ is a real thing? Ever consider multiple points of view, only to be called ‘wishy-washy’? In this brilliantly researched and entertaining book, Therese Huston reveals the ways in which understanding ourselves and thinking critically about gender biases can help us all make better choices. I'm already using it to strategize at work, and I predict that every reader will learn something new and useful in its pages.”
—Jessica Bacal, editor of Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong and Director of the Wurtele Center for Work & Life at Smith College
“Finally! A well-researched book that affirms the fact that, despite their self-doubts, women make great decision-makers. This book will help you to compete with your male counterparts with courage and confidence.”
—Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and See Jane Lead
“How do women make decisions? In this thoughtful, well-researched book, Huston avoids pop-psych answers that assume all women are the same. Exploding stereotypes, but showing their effect on women’s behavior, she offers intelligent guidance to the challenges and process of making decisions.”
—Carol Tavris, Ph.D., coauthor of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)
“None of the myriad decision-making bestsellers considers how their advice should differ for men and women. How Women Decide overthrows such one-sex-fits-all recommendations. It combines engaging stories and compelling research to reveal how our beliefs about men and women drive the way they make choices."
—Daniel Simons, Ph.D, coauthor of The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us