One of the keen observations of Mad Men is that the show’s women – even constrained as they are by 1960’s social roles and the lack of professional opportunities – are generally more capable than then men. A recent study by the mutual fund company Vanguard suggests that investing in an economic slump may be another area where the male Y chromosome is a liability.
Rather than being due to any particular strategy, it turns out that overconfidence in their own abilities meant that during the financial crises, men suffered disproportionate market losses than women. As the New York Times summarized:
“There’s been a lot of academic research suggesting that men think they know what they’re doing, even when they really don’t know what they’re doing,” [the study’s author] said. Women, on the other hand, appear more likely to acknowledge when they don’t know something – like the direction of the stock market or of the price of a stock or a bond.
Well guys, take a break from asking directions and acknowledge — particularly for those of you who opened your portfolio statements in late 2009 — that it’s okay to cry.