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Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?

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  • Alison L. Booth
  • Patrick Nolen

Abstract

Using a controlled experiment, we examine the role of nurture in explaining the stylized fact that women shy away from competition. Our subjects (students just under 15 years of age) attend publicly-funded single-sex and coeducational schools. We find robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from single-sex and coed schools. Moreover, girls from single-sex schools behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 602.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:602

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Keywords: tournament; piece-rate; gender; experiment; competitive behaviour;

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References

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  1. Albrecht, James & Björklund, Anders & Vroman, Susan, 2001. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," IZA Discussion Papers 282, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L. & Bryan, Mark L., 2004. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wages Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 1373, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Vandegrift, Donald & Yavas, Abdullah, 2009. "Men, women, and competition: An experimental test of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 554-570, October.
  4. Timothy N. Cason & William A. Masters & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "Entry Into Winner-Take-All And Proportional-Prize Contests:An Experimental Study," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1231, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  5. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7198, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico, 2006. "Peers at Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 5870, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00180022, HAL.
  8. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  9. Hoff, Karla & Pandey, Priyanka, 2004. "Belief systems and durable inequalities : an experimental investigation of Indian caste," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3351, The World Bank.
  10. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  11. Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M., 2006. "The U.S. Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence," IZA Discussion Papers 2176, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
  13. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  14. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  15. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth Leonard & John List, 2009. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society," Artefactual Field Experiments 00049, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin Hallock, 1999. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," Working Papers 805, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  17. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  18. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
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