Gender Differences in Performance in Competitive Environments? Evidence from Professional Tennis Players
This paper uses detailed stroke-by-stroke data from seven tennis Grand Slam tournaments played between 2006 and 2007 to assess whether men and women respond differently to competitive pressure in a setting with large monetary rewards. It finds that at crucial junctures of the match, both men and women adopt a more conservative and less aggressive playing strategy, meaning that the probability of hitting winning shots and making unforced errors decreases. The odds of making an unforced error relative to hitting a winner fall for women, while they remain constant for men. However, using a simple game-theoretic model, I argue that the men’s game deteriorates at least as much as the women’s game on more important points. I estimate that, for both men and women, the probability that a player wins a match against an opponent of equal quality would increase from 0.5 to about 0.75-0.80 if he or she could avoid the deterioration in performance on more important points.
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|Date of creation:||Jan 2010|
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