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Understanding Gender Differences in Leadership

Author

Listed:
  • Alan, Sule
  • Ertac, Seda
  • Kubilay, Elif
  • Lóránth, Gyöngyi

Abstract

We study the evolution of gender differences in the willingness to assume the decision-maker role in a group, which is a major component of leadership. Using data from a large-scale field experiment, we show that while there is no gender difference in the willingness to make risky decisions on behalf of a group in a sample of children, a large gap emerges in a sample of adolescents. In particular, the proportion of girls who exhibit leadership willingness drops by 39% going from childhood to adolescence. We explore the possible causes of this drop and find that a significant part of it can be explained by a dramatic decline in "social confidence", measured by the willingness to perform a real effort task in public. We show that it is possible to capture the observed link between public performance and leadership by estimating a structural model that incorporates costs related to social concerns. These findings are important in addressing the lower propensity of females to self-select into high-level positions, which are typically subject to greater public scrutiny.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan, Sule & Ertac, Seda & Kubilay, Elif & Lóránth, Gyöngyi, 2016. "Understanding Gender Differences in Leadership," CEPR Discussion Papers 11596, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11596
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
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    4. Steffen Andersen & Seda Ertac & Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Sandra Maximiano, 2013. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Socialization at a Young Age: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1438-1443, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Buser, Thomas & Ranehill, Eva & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2017. "Gender differences in willingness to compete: The role of public observability," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2017-203, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    2. Johannes Haushofer & Michala Iben Riis-Vestergaard & Jeremy Shapiro, 2019. "Is there a social cost of randomization?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 52(4), pages 709-739, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    leadership; gender; risk taking; social confidence; experiments.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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