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Are females scared of competing with males? Results from a field experiment

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  • De Paola, Maria
  • Gioia, Francesca
  • Scoppa, Vincenzo

Abstract

We conducted a field experiment involving 720 Italian undergraduate students to investigate the existence of gender differences in performance in competitive settings and whether performance is affected by one's opponent gender. The experimental design was aimed at neutralizing other differences in psychological attitudes, such as self-confidence and risk aversion, that are typically considered as potential explanations of gender differences in competitive environments. Students were invited to undertake a midterm exam under a tournament scheme having as a prize some bonus points to add to the final grade. Students competed in pairs of equal predicted ability but different gender composition. In a competitive setting in which risk aversion, feedback provision and self-confidence have little relevance, we find that women tend to perform similarly to men. The gender of one's competitor does not play any role in shaping students’ behavior. Men and women perform similarly both in the competitive and in the non-competitive environment.

Suggested Citation

  • De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2015. "Are females scared of competing with males? Results from a field experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 117-128.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:48:y:2015:i:c:p:117-128
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.06.002
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    Cited by:

    1. De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2016. "The Adverse Consequences of Tournaments: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 9854, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Maria De Paola & Michela Ponzo & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2015. "Gender Differences in Attitudes Towards Competition: Evidence from the Italian Scientific Qualification," CSEF Working Papers 391, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    3. Daniele Checchi & Simona Cicognani & Nevena Kulic, 2015. "Gender quotas or girls' networks? Towards an understanding of recruitment in the research profession in Italy," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2015-12, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
    4. Czibor, Eszter & Onderstal, Sander & Sloof, Randolph & van Praag, Mirjam C., 2014. "Does Relative Grading Help Male Students? Evidence from a Field Experiment in the Classroom," IZA Discussion Papers 8429, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Bernd Frick & Anica Rose & André Kolle, 2017. "Gender Diversity is Detrimental to Team Performance: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Working Papers Dissertations 23, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    6. Thomas Buser, 2016. "How does the Gender Difference in Willingness to Compete evolve with Experience?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-017/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Azmat, Ghazala & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2014. "Gender and the labor market: What have we learned from field and lab experiments?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 32-40.
    8. Bigoni Maria & Fort Margherita & Nardotto Mattia & Reggiani Tommaso G., 2015. "Cooperation or Competition? A Field Experiment on Non-monetary Learning Incentives," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 1753-1792, October.
    9. Benoît Rapoport & Claire Thibout, 2016. "Why Do Boys and Girls Make Different Educational Choices? The Influence of Expected Earnings and Test Scores," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    10. Zacchia, Giulia, 2016. "Segregation or homologation? Gender differences in recent Italian economic thought," MPRA Paper 72279, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2017. "Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Risk-Taking among Children, Teenagers, and College Students: Evidence from Jeopardy!," IZA Discussion Papers 11201, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2014. "Overconfidence, omens and gender heterogeneity: Results from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 237-252.
    13. repec:oup:oxecpp:v:69:y:2017:i:4:p:986-1009. is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:201-222 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. John, June, 2017. "Gender differences and the effect of facing harder competition," MPRA Paper 81072, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender differences; Attitude toward competition; Psychological differences; Tournaments; Field experiment; Student achievements;

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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