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Choosing to Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?

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Author Info

  • 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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References

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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 511, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2000. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," NBER Working Papers 7931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7198, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Francine Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The US Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence," Working Papers 887, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  7. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. 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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  15. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  16. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  17. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  18. 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.
  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. 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.
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