A Sex Difference in Risk Taking and Promotions in Hierarchies: Evidence from Females in Legislatures
Scotchmer showed how a sex difference in risk taking can cause promotional patterns to differ across sexes, even if discrimination is absent and ability is identically distributed ex ante. In her model, (1) winner-take-all promotions favor risk-taking males, but (2) promoted females enjoy greater ability and (3) see this advantage depreciate with repeated play. I find persistent evidence for the first two implications in how the sex composition of national legislatures differs across electoral mechanisms (winner-take-all chambers employ a greater proportion of males) and in how reelection prospects for U.S. representatives differ by sex (females enjoy longer expected service in a winner-take-all chamber). Finally, while the data convey less information about the third implication, the results are difficult to rationalize in alternative models and can have important implications not only for affirmative action doctrines but also for corporate fiduciary duties.
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