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Gender Differences and Dynamics in Competition: The Role of Luck

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  • David Gill
  • Victoria Prowse

Abstract

We present experimental evidence which sheds new light on why women may be less competitive than men.� Specifically, we observe striking differences in how men and women respond to good and bad luck in a competitive environment.� Following a loss, women tend to reduce effort, and the effect is independent of the monetary value of the prize that the women failed to win.� Men, on the other hand, reduce effort only after failing to win large prizes.� Responses to previous competitve outcomes explain about 11% of the variation that we observe in women's efforts, but only about 4% of the variation in the effort of men, and differential responses to luck account for about half of the gender performance gap in our experiment.� These findings help to explain both female underperformance in environments with repeated competition and the tendency for women to select into tournaments at a lower rate than men.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 564.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:564

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Keywords: Real effort experiments; gender differences; gender gap; competition aversion; tournament; luck; win; loss; competitive outcomes;

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  1. Cason, Timothy & Masters, William & Sheremeta, Roman, 2010. "Entry into Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: An Experimental Study," MPRA Paper 49886, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," IZA Discussion Papers 4941, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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