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Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?

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  • Alison L. Booth
  • Patrick Nolen

Abstract

Using a controlled experiment, we examine the role of nurture in explaining the stylized fact that women shy away from competition. Our subjects (students just under 15 years of age) attend publicly-funded single-sex and coeducational schools. We find robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from single-sex and coed schools. Moreover, girls from single-sex schools behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

Suggested Citation

  • Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?," CEPR Discussion Papers 602, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:602
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/CEPR/DP602.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tournament; piece-rate; gender; experiment; competitive behaviour;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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