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Brave Boys and Play-it-Safe Girls: Gender Differences in Willingness to Guess in a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment

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  • Iriberri, Nagore
  • Rey Biel, Pedro

Abstract

We study gender differences in willingness to guess using approximately 10,000 multiple-choice math tests, where for half of the questions, both wrong answers and omitted questions are scored 0, and for the other half, wrong answers are scored 0 but omitted questions are scored +1. Using a within-participant regression analysis, we find that female participants leave significantly more omitted questions than males when there is a reward for omitted questions. This gender difference, which is stronger among high ability and older participants, hurts female performance as measured by the final score and position in the ranking. In a subsequent survey, female participants showed lower levels of confidence and higher risk aversion, which may explain this differential behavior. When both are considered, risk aversion is the main factor explaining the gender differential in the willingness to guess. A scoring rule that is gender neutral must use non-differential scoring between wrong answers and omitted questions.

Suggested Citation

  • Iriberri, Nagore & Rey Biel, Pedro, 2019. "Brave Boys and Play-it-Safe Girls: Gender Differences in Willingness to Guess in a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 13541, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13541
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    Cited by:

    1. Espinosa Maria Paz & Gardeazabal Javier, 2020. "The Gender-bias Effect of Test Scoring and Framing: A Concern for Personnel Selection and College Admission," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(3), pages 1-23, July.
    2. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Juan José Ganuza & Manuel García, 2020. "Gender Gap and Multiple Choice Exams in Public Selection Processes," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 235(4), pages 11-28, December.
    3. Judith M. Delaney & Paul J. Devereux, 2021. "Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence," Working Papers 202103, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    4. Oriana Bandiera & Nidhi Parekh & Barbara Petrongolo & Michelle Rao, 2022. "Men are from Mars, and Women Too: A Bayesian Meta‐analysis of Overconfidence Experiments," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 89(S1), pages 38-70, June.
    5. Nguyen, Ha Trong & Brinkman, Sally & Le, Huong Thu & Zubrick, Stephen R. & Mitrou, Francis, 2022. "Gender differences in time allocation contribute to differences in developmental outcomes in children and adolescents," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    6. Pau Balart & Lara Ezquerra & Iñigo Hernandez-Arenaz, 2022. "Framing effects on risk-taking behavior: evidence from a field experiment in multiple-choice tests," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 25(4), pages 1268-1297, September.
    7. Saygin, Perihan O. & Atwater, Ann, 2021. "Gender differences in leaving questions blank on high-stakes standardized tests," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    confidence; gender differences; natural field experiment; perceived ability in math; risk preferences; willingness to guess;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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