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