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The importance of being confident; gender, career choice, and willingness to compete

  • Kamas, Linda
  • Preston, Anne
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    This study investigates the extent to which gender differences in choosing to enter competitive tournaments are due to women's lower taste for competition or differences in confidence. We examine three types of confidence and find that confidence measured by expected ranking is the most important determinant of decisions to enter tournaments. Conditional on ability, this measure eliminates gender differences in winner-take-all tournaments and, when entered with risk measures, eliminates differences in ranked compensation tournaments. When the sample is split by career choice, there are no gender differences for students in STEM fields, and in the humanities and the social sciences differences can be explained by confidence. However, for business school students, gender differences in willingness to compete in winner-take-all tournaments persist even after accounting for risk aversion and confidence. Men in business set themselves apart from the rest of the population (men and women alike) with the highest levels of tournament entry and the most positive performance responses to competition.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 83 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 82-97

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:83:y:2012:i:1:p:82-97
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    1. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 360, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    2. Niels D. Grosse & Gerhard Riener, 2010. "Explaining Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Gender-Task Stereotypes," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-017, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
    3. Bjorn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Michel Andre Marechal & Daniel Schunk, 2009. "Egalitarianism and Competitiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 93-98, May.
    4. 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.
    5. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
    6. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    7. 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.
    8. John List & Kenneth Leonard & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society," Artefactual Field Experiments 00049, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    10. Vandegrift, Donald & Yavas, Abdullah, 2009. "Men, women, and competition: An experimental test of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 554-570, October.
    11. G√ľnther, Christina & Ekinci, Neslihan Arslan & Schwieren, Christiane & Strobel, Martin, 2010. "Women can't jump?--An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 395-401, September.
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