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Choosing to Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?

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  • Booth, Alison L.

    ()
    (Australian National University)

  • Nolen, Patrick J.

    ()
    (University of Essex)

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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4027.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2012, 81 (2), 542 - 555
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4027

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

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  1. 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.
  2. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2006. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wages Distribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 510, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  3. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Schupp, Jürgen & Sunde, Uwe & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2006. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 5517, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. James Albrecht & Anders Bjorklund & Susan Vroman, 2003. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 145-177, January.
  5. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  6. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  7. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier, Elsevier.
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  9. Timothy N. Cason & William A. Masters & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "Entry into Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 10-10, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  10. 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.
  11. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier, Elsevier.
  12. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2004. "The US Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence," NBER Working Papers 10853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin Hallock, 1999. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," Working Papers 805, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  15. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  16. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick J., 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 4026, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. Katharine G. Abraham & James L. Medoff, 1983. "Length of Service and the Operation of Internal Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 1085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
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