Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Study: Women Are Less Likely to 'Choke' Under Extreme Pressure Than Men

Competing in a Grand Slam tennis event is not for the faint of heart. Tens of thousands of fans pack the stands. Millions of dollars in prize money is at stake, with equal-size prizes for men and women.

All of which makes these matches an ideal way to examine who chokes under pressure more: men, or women?

It’s an important question, for many reasons. Women represent almost half the workforce in many countries, and yet face a stubborn pay gap. They are also notably under-represented in high-profile, high-paying positions, such as Fortune 500 CEOs, and in fast-growing, well-compensated professions, including those in science, technology and engineering.

Discrimination has been found to play a role, and some suggest that self-selection contributes to the problem (ie women pick lower-paid, lower-profile jobs). A group of researchers tested a third possibility: that men respond better to competitive pressure.

“There are several studies that show that women don’t want to get into a competitive environment, that they shy away from competition,” said Alex Krumer from the University of St. Gallen, one of the co-authors of the study on choking.

Krumer and his colleagues decided to look at the Grand Slam tennis tournaments—the...

Doing Group Work? Don’t Be Afraid to Fight With Your Colleagues

When you’re working on a group project, tensions are bound to surface. But for many people, it seems wisest to swallow frustrations about your teammates’ decisions and avoid getting into a debate about who should be in charge of what.

But a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that these kinds of clashes can actually be quite valuable. The study explored the effect of status conflicts—that is, questioning other people’s authority or competence—on group work. It found that status conflict can actually improve a team’s productivity and work outcome. But the benefit depends upon the structure of your organization.

Status conflicts typically stem from concern over one’s relative position in a group or team, according to Corinne Bendersky, a management and organizations professor at the University of California in Los Angeles who co-authored the study. The root emotion motivating the conflict is usually feeling undervalued or disrespected—two “very hot human emotions.” That means disagreements can get pretty ugly.

Past research shows that in a hierarchical organization, where everyone’s pretty clear about how they rank compared to their peers, status conflicts are disruptive. Questioning one another’s authority just...

How to Learn New Things as an Adult

Quick, what’s the capital of Australia? No Googling! (And no points if you’re Australian—that means the information is more meaningful to you, which means you’re more likely to know it). Did you get it? Or are you sure you learned it at some point, but forgot right around the time that you forgot how the Krebs cycle works? In his new book, Learn Better, author and education researcher Ulrich Boser digs into the neuroscience of learning and shows why it’s so hard to remember facts like that one. Boser explains why some of the most common ways we try to memorize information are actually totally ineffective, and he reveals what to do instead.

Because we’re all getting dumber in the age of Google, I interviewed Boser recently about what people can do to boost their memories and skill sets, even if they’re long past flash-card age. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Olga Khazan: What does it mean to learn something? Is it to memorize something? How do you know when you've learned something?

Ulrich Boser: Really what we want to do is to be able to think in that way...

Don’t Be Distracted By Trump’s 100-Day Plan

There’s an unusual political genius in Trump’s frantic first 100 days. But the real puzzles are lurking in the next 1,000 days.

The 100-day plan is this: Disrupt everything that official Washington holds dear. Throw hundreds of balls in the air. Watch how they bounce. Grab the ones that bounce best. Repeat.

Then, to making sure that no one in federal agencies can slow down the disruption, don’t make appointments to subcabinet posts—or even to key executive jobs in the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management. Even members of the team can be speed bumps. The plan has Democrats on their heels and Republicans unsure about what’s going to happen next—or even whose game they’re playing.

But with the end of the first 100 days and the next 1,000 days looming, Trump will own whatever happens from now on. And that’s where the risks ratchet up, especially in a war against his own base.

Consider two big programs on the table: replacing Obamacare with Trumpcare and launching a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Both aim to cut big government down and push big decisions out—to states...

Embrace Your Inner Trump and Become a Better Leader

Ask not what you can do for your country but what you can do for yourself.

Yes, President John F. Kennedy said the opposite at his inauguration in 1961. But times have changed and Zen masters say that to engage effectively during Donald Trump’s presidency, we must first turn inward.

Getting angry about Trump and his policies is easy for liberals. He offers lots of opportunities to cultivate and demonstrate rage. But going deeper, to see how infuriating aspects of his personality exist in each of us, can prompt individuals to evolve and become more effective, according to some Buddhist monks. “We need to learn that even in our own personal life, we react out of this place of anger and we see it doesn’t help, and this expands to groups, to nations,” Brother Phap Dung told the Huffington Post.

Once an architect in Los Angeles, Dung is now a monk in Plum Village, the spiritual retreat started by peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh in France. Nhat Hanh, now 90, responded to the US war in his home country of Vietnam with a grassroots humanitarian aid campaign, and became friends with Martin Luther King, convincing him to speak...

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.