Editorial Gender and the Decision Making Process

 Editorial  Gender and the Decision Making Process

The process of decision making is one of the most complex mechanisms of human contemplation, since various factors and directions of action are involved ensuing divergent consequences.  Whether dealing with a simple decision on what to wear each day, or dealing with complex decisions in management positions, the issue is important since it ascertains our individual and collective fate.

Scholars have defined it as a series of cognitive operations performed consciously, which include the elements from the environment in a specific time and place.  They consider decision making as the interaction between a problem that needs to be solved and a person who wishes to solve it within a specific environment.

In this process, in addition to the understanding that a decision is necessary, the individual determines the goals which need to be met and ascertains the alternative ways available to reach that goal. Then, an evaluation of those ways needs to be made which can enable the individual to make the final choice. Psychosocial and environmental variables can influence this process at different stages and to varying extents. The individual’s worldview and beliefs are also instrumental in affecting the outcome of a decision.

Whether women and men follow an identical course during this process and what factors are predisposed by sex is an important question. Do women and men see different factors as more important and determining in a decision process?  Are women and men instructed by different intrinsic factors? It seems that women are more affected by the environment; they look for more information, and dedicate more time to the decision process.   Men, on the contrary, are more dominant, assertive, objective, and realistic.

Emotions are an important factor for women in their decisions and many scholars assert that emotions could be considered as a balancing factor and a buffer between the realms of reason.

Researchers believe that women are more concerned with the choices, uncertainty, doubts, and the dynamism that are involved in the decision. They place more emphasis on time and money; they are more concerned about the consequences and constraints that may derive from the decision, no matter whether these affect them or other people.

 Conversely, men may assign more importance to the analysis of the information required to carry out the decision and to the definition of the goals or purposes of the decision. They are more motivated during the process and also feel   the pressure from the social environment aspects.

Contrary to the certain traditional cultural attitudes, strength or weakness in decision making cannot be attributed to sex. Both women and men have God given potentials that enable them to evaluate, assess, and weigh the choices involved in every decision. One has not been created to dominate over the other and to decide for the fate and the life of the other. Their psyche is such that they are complementary in their capabilities. Their sex related aptitudes in this area are such that together, ie in the family as husband and wife, or brother and sister, or in the society, their collective decision will be more balanced and objective. 

The collective features of decision making in men and women creates a uniform and balanced image of a human society that can find the best choices and directions in the most difficult and complex situation. In this perspective when societies pave the way for a gender balanced participation in decision making processes, they together may ensure the equilibrium that can enable more efficient and less error prone decisions.

The Quranic perspective is also balanced and egalitarian in the essence of the beings of women and men. Men and women will be rewarded on the basis of their decisions and actions and not on the basis of sex or gender.

Sura Nahl 97:

Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer - We will surely cause them to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.


Massoumeh Ebtekar

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