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A man´s world? – The impact of a male dominated environment on female leadership


  • Born, Andreas

    (Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Ranehill, Eva

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Sandberg, Anna

    (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)


Despite the significant growth in female labor force participation and educational attainment over the past decades, few women reach leadership positions. In this study, we explore whether male dominated environments, in and of themselves, adversely affect women´s willingness to lead a team. We find that women randomly assigned to male majority teams are less willing to become team leaders than women assigned to female majority teams. Analyses of potential mechanisms show that women in male majority teams are less confident in their relative performance, less influential, and more swayed by others in team discussions. They also (accurately) believe that they will receive less support from team members in a leadership election. Taken together, our results indicate that the absence of women in male dominated contexts may be a self-reinforcing process.

Suggested Citation

  • Born, Andreas & Ranehill, Eva & Sandberg, Anna, 2018. "A man´s world? – The impact of a male dominated environment on female leadership," Working Papers in Economics 744, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0744

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    Cited by:

    1. Maggian, Valeria & Montinari, Natalia & Nicolò, Antonio, 2020. "Do quotas help women to climb the career ladder? A laboratory experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    2. Christine L Exley & Judd B Kessler, 2022. "The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 137(3), pages 1345-1381.

    More about this item


    leadership; gender differences; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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