Despite increasing female labor market participation, gender differences in labor market outcomes persist: men earn more, have better employment perspectives and better access to top positions. One explanation for the persisting gender gap is that women are more reluctant to engage in competition. A new IZA discussion paper by Maria De Paola, Francesca Gioia and Vincenzo Scoppa tests this hypothesis by running a field experiment. The experiment involves 720 undergraduate students enrolled at an Italian university and attending three economic courses in the academic year 2012-2013. The experimental design aims at disentangling gender differences in taste for competition from other differences in psychological attitudes, such as self-confidence and risk aversion. Students were invited to undertake a mid-term exam under a tournament scheme where they have the opportunity to win bonus points for the final exam. Students competed in pairs of equal ability but different gender composition. The authors find that females are as likely as males to take part in the competition. Moreover, men and women perform similarly both in the competitive and in the non-competitive environment. Lastly, the gender of one’s competitor does not affect student behavior.
Women are not scared of competing with males, field experiment shows
Featured Paper:IZA Discussion Paper No. 7799 Are Females Scared of Competing with Males? Results from a Field Experiment
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