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Gender Differences in Output Quality and Quantity under Competition and Time Constraints: Evidence from a Pilot Study

  • Olga Shurchkov

    (Wellesley College)

Gender gaps in income and level of position in the workplace are widespread. One explanation for this inequality is that the genders perform differently under competitive conditions, as previous experimental studies have found a significant gender gap in competitive tasks that are perceived to favor men. In this paper, we use a verbal task that is perceived to favor women and find no gender difference under competition per se. We also reject the hypothesis that a .stereotype threat. explains the inability of women to improve performance under competition. We propose an alternative explanation for gender inequality: namely, that women and men respond differently to time pressure. With reduced time pressure, competition in verbal tasks greatly increases the performance of women, such that women significantly outperform men. This effect appears largely due to the fact that extra time in a competition improves the quality of women’s work, leading them to make fewer mistakes. On the other hand, men use this extra time to increase the quantity of work, which results in a greater number of mistakes.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2009.95.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2009.95
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2000. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," NBER Working Papers 7931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Paserman, M. Daniele, 2007. "Gender Differences in Performance in Competitive Environments: Evidence from Professional Tennis Players," IZA Discussion Papers 2834, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. James Andreoni & Lise Vesterlund, 2001. "Which Is The Fair Sex? Gender Differences In Altruism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 293-312, February.
  4. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 3-21, October.
  6. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-71, July.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
  8. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  9. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
  10. John List & Kenneth Leonard & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society," Artefactual Field Experiments 00049, The Field Experiments Website.
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