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Gender and Competition

Author

Listed:
  • Muriel Niederle

    () (Department of Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
    NBER, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

  • Lise Vesterlund

    () (NBER, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260)

Abstract

Laboratory studies have documented that women often respond less favorably to competition than men. Conditional on performance, men are often more eager to compete, and the performance of men tends to respond more positively to an increase in competition. This means that few women enter and win competitions. We review studies that examine the robustness of these differences as well the factors that may give rise to them. Both laboratory and field studies largely confirm these initial findings, showing that gender differences in competitiveness tend to result from differences in overconfidence and in attitudes toward competition. Gender differences in risk aversion, however, seem to play a smaller and less robust role. We conclude by asking what could and should be done to encourage qualified males and females to compete.

Suggested Citation

  • Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2011. "Gender and Competition," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 601-630, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:3:y:2011:p:601-630
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    File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-economics-111809-125122
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    experiments; labor economics; economics of education; overconfidence;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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