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Outrunning the gender gap—boys and girls compete equally

  • Anna Dreber

    ()

  • Emma Essen

    ()

  • Eva Ranehill

    ()

Recent studies find that women are less competitive than men. This gender difference in competitiveness has been suggested as one possible explanation for why men occupy the majority of top positions in many sectors. In this study we explore competitiveness in children, with the premise that both context and gendered stereotypes regarding the task at hand may influence competitive behavior. A related field experiment on Israeli children shows that only boys react to competition by running faster when competing in a race. We here test if there is a gender gap in running among 7-10 year old Swedish children. We also introduce two female sports, skipping rope and dancing, to see if competitiveness is task dependent. We find no gender difference in reaction to competition in any task; boys and girls compete equally. Studies in different environments with different types of tasks are thus important in order to make generalizable claims about gender differences in competitiveness.

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Article provided by Springer & Economic Science Association in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 567-582

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:14:y:2011:i:4:p:567-582
DOI: 10.1007/s10683-011-9282-8
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  1. 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.
  2. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
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  15. Matthew Pearson & Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Menstrual Cycle and Competitive Bidding," Working Papers 1110, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  16. Günther, 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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  18. Wozniak, David, 2009. "Choices About Competition: Differences by gender and hormonal fluctuations, and the role of relative performance feedback," MPRA Paper 21097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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