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Gender, Competitiveness and Career Choices

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  • Thomas Buser
  • Muriel Niederle
  • Hessel Oosterbeek

Abstract

Gender differences in competitiveness are often discussed as a potential explanation for gender differences in education and labor market outcomes. We correlate an incentivized measure of competitiveness with an important career choice of secondary school students in the Netherlands. At the age of 15, these students have to pick one out of four study profiles, which vary in how prestigious they are. While boys and girls have very similar levels of academic ability, boys are substantially more likely than girls to choose more prestigious profiles. We find that competitiveness is as important a predictor of profile choice as gender. More importantly, up to 23 percent of the gender difference in profile choice can be attributed to gender differences in competitiveness. This lends support to the extrapolation of laboratory findings on competitiveness to labor market settings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18576.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18576

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References

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  1. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2010. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144, August.
  2. Jan-Erik Lönnqvist & Markku Verkasalo & Gari Walkowitz & Philipp Christoph Wichardt, 2014. "Measuring Individual Risk Attitudes in the Lab: Task or Ask? An Empirical Comparison," CESifo Working Paper Series 4663, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on competitiveness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-10.
  4. Wozniak, David, 2009. "Choices About Competition: Differences by gender and hormonal fluctuations, and the role of relative performance feedback," MPRA Paper 21097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 11660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2013. "How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, May.
  7. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2010. "Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions," NBER Working Papers 16546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Carmit Segal, 2012. "Working When No One Is Watching: Motivation, Test Scores, and Economic Success," Management Science, INFORMS, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1438-1457, August.
  9. 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.
  10. Juanna Joensen, 2012. "Math and Gender: What if Girls Do Math?," 2012 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 992, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Kristin Kleinjans, 2008. "Do Gender Differences in Preferences for Competition Matter for Occupational Expectations?," Economics Working Papers, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus 2008-09, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
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Cited by:
  1. Reuben, Ernesto & Wiswall, Matthew & Zafar, Basit, 2013. "Preferences and Biases in Educational Choices and Labor Market Expectations: Shrinking the Black Box of Gender," IZA Discussion Papers 7579, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Anne C. Gielen & Jessica Holmes & Caitlin Myers, 2013. "Testosterone and the gender wage gap," Middlebury College Working Paper Series, Middlebury College, Department of Economics 1301, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Anna Dreber & Emma Essen & Eva Ranehill, 2014. "Gender and competition in adolescence: task matters," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 154-172, March.
  4. Almås, Ingvild & Cappelen, Alexander W. & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2014. "Willingness to Compete: Family Matters," Discussion Paper Series in Economics, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics 3/2014, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  5. René Böheim & Mario Lackner, 2013. "Gender and Competition: Evidence from Jumping Competitions," Economics working papers, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria 2013-05, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  6. Stefan Bauernschuster & Anita Fichtl, 2013. "Brauchen wir eine gesetzliche Frauenquote?," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 66(02), pages 39-48, 01.

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