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Are Females Scared of Competing with Males? Results from a Field Experiment

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  • Maria De Paola
  • Francesca Gioia
  • Vincenzo Scoppa

Abstract

We conducted a field experiment involving 720 Italian undergraduate students to investigate the existence of gender differences in performance in competitive settings and whether performance is affected by one's opponent gender. The experimental design was aimed at disentangling gender differences in taste for competition from other differences in psychological attitudes, such as self-confidence and risk aversion. Students were invited to undertake a midterm exam under a tournament scheme having as a prize some bonus points to add to the final grade. Students competed in pairs of equal predicted ability but different gender composition. We find that females are as likely as males to take part in the competition and to obtain a good performance. The gender of one's competitor does not play any role in shaping students' behavior. Men and women perform similarly both in the competitive and in the non-competitive environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria De Paola & Francesca Gioia & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2013. "Are Females Scared of Competing with Males? Results from a Field Experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00396, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00396
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    Cited by:

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    3. Clot, Sophie & Della Giusta, Marina & Razzu, Giovanni, 2020. "Gender Gaps in Competition: New Experimental Evidence from UK Professionals," IZA Discussion Papers 13323, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Azmat, Ghazala & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2014. "Gender and the labor market: What have we learned from field and lab experiments?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 32-40.
    5. Zacchia, Giulia, 2016. "Segregation or homologation? Gender differences in recent Italian economic thought," MPRA Paper 72279, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2017. "Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Risk-Taking among Children, Teenagers, and College Students: Evidence from Jeopardy!," IZA Discussion Papers 11201, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Rapoport, Benoît & Thibout, Claire, 2018. "Why do boys and girls make different educational choices? The influence of expected earnings and test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 205-229.
    8. Jetter Michael & Walker Jay K., 2020. "Gender Differences in Performance and Risk-taking among Children, Teenagers, and College Students: Evidence from Jeopardy!," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(2), pages 1-24, April.
    9. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2018. "The gender of opponents: Explaining gender differences in performance and risk-taking?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 238-256.
    10. Czibor, Eszter & Onderstal, Sander & Sloof, Randolph & van Praag, C. Mirjam, 2020. "Does relative grading help male students? Evidence from a field experiment in the classroom," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    11. Bigoni Maria & Fort Margherita & Nardotto Mattia & Reggiani Tommaso G., 2015. "Cooperation or Competition? A Field Experiment on Non-monetary Learning Incentives," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 1753-1792, October.
    12. Sophie Clot & Marina Della Giusta & Giovanni Razzu, 2020. "Gender gaps in competition: new experimental evidence from UK," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-15, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    13. De Paola, Maria & Ponzo, Michela & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2015. "Gender Differences in Attitudes Towards Competition: Evidence from the Italian Scientific Qualification," IZA Discussion Papers 8859, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2018. "The adverse consequences of tournaments: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 1-18.
    15. Bernd Frick & Anica Rose & André Kolle, 2017. "Gender Diversity is Detrimental to Team Performance: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Working Papers Dissertations 23, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    16. Benoît Rapoport & Claire Thibout, 2016. "Why Do Boys and Girls Make Different Educational Choices? The Influence of Expected Earnings and Test Scores," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    17. Thomas Buser, 2016. "How does the Gender Difference in Willingness to Compete evolve with Experience?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-017/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    18. Manuela Stranges & Daniele Vignoli & Alessandra Venturini, 2019. "“Comparison is the thief of joy”. Does social comparison affect migrants’ subjective well-being?," Discussion Papers 53, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
    19. Hoyer, Britta & van Huizen, Thomas & Keijzer, Linda & Rezaei, Sarah & Rosenkranz, Stephanie & Westbrock, Bastian, 2020. "Gender, competitiveness, and task difficulty: Evidence from the field," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    20. John, June Park, 2017. "Gender differences and the effect of facing harder competition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 201-222.
    21. Klege, Rebecca Afua & Visser, Martine & Barron A, Manuel F. & Clarke, Rowan P., 2021. "Competition and gender in the lab vs field: Experiments from off-grid renewable energy entrepreneurs in Rural Rwanda," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    22. Manuela Stranges & Daniele Vignoli & Alessandra Venturini, 2019. ""Comparison is the thief of joy". Does social comparison affect migrants’ subjective well-being?," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_03, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    23. De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2014. "Overconfidence, omens and gender heterogeneity: Results from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 237-252.
    24. Maria De Paola & Michela Ponzo & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2017. "Gender differences in the propensity to apply for promotion: evidence from the Italian Scientific Qualification," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 986-1009.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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