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Understanding Gender Differences in Leadership

Author

Listed:
  • Sule Alan

    (University of Essex)

  • Seda Ertac

    (Koc University)

  • Elif Kubilay

    (Bocconi University)

  • Gyongyi Loranth

    (University of Virginia)

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

  • Sule Alan & Seda Ertac & Elif Kubilay & Gyongyi Loranth, 2016. "Understanding Gender Differences in Leadership," Working Papers 2016-024, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2016-024
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    Cited by:

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    2. Buser, Thomas & Ranehill, Eva & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2021. "Gender differences in willingness to compete: The role of public observability," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    3. Calvin Mudzingiri & Sevias Guvuriro & Charity Gomo, 2021. "Exploring Association between Self-Reported Financial Status and Economic Preferences Using Experimental Data," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 14(6), pages 1-13, May.
    4. Borra, Cristina & Iacovou, Maria & Sevilla, Almudena, 2023. "Adolescent development and the math gender gap," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
    5. De Paola, Maria & Gioia, Francesca & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2022. "Female leadership: Effectiveness and perception," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 201(C), pages 134-162.
    6. Thomas Buser & Huaiping Yuan, 2023. "Public Speaking Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 69(5), pages 2746-2760, May.
    7. Hans Henrik Sievertsen & Sarah Smith, 2022. "Male and Female Voices in Economics," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 22/761, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    8. Shelly Lundberg, 2023. "Gender Economics: Dead-Ends and New Opportunities," Research in Labor Economics, in: 50th Celebratory Volume, volume 50, pages 151-189, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
    9. Della Giusta, Marina & Bosworth, Steven J., 2020. "Bias and Discrimination: What Do We Know?," IZA Discussion Papers 13983, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Sule Alan & Gozde Corekcioglu & Mustafa Kaba & Matthias Sutter, 2023. "Female Leadership and Workplace Climate," ECONtribute Policy Brief Series 057, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    11. 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.
    12. De Paola, Maria & Lombardo, Rosetta & Pupo, Valeria & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2021. "Do Women Shy Away from Public Speaking? A Field Experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    13. Cavalcanti, Carina & Grossman, Philip J. & Khalil, Elias L., 2023. "Leadership heuristic," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    14. Kerstin Grosch, Kerstin & Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A. & Zhurakhovska, Lilia, 2020. "Selection into Leadership and Dishonest Behavior of Leaders: A Gender Experiment," IHS Working Paper Series 19, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    15. Mourelatos, Evangelos & Krimpas, George & Giotopoulos, Konstantinos, 2022. "Sexual identity and Gender Gap in Leadership. A political intention experiment," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1187, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    16. Kerstin Grosch & Stephan Müller & Holger A. Rau & Lilia Wasserka-Zhurakhovska, 2020. "Gender Differences in Dishonesty Disappear When Leaders Make Decisions on Behalf of Their Team," CESifo Working Paper Series 8514, CESifo.
    17. Coffman, Katherine & Flikkema, Clio Bryant & Shurchkov, Olga, 2021. "Gender stereotypes in deliberation and team decisions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 329-349.
    18. Priyanka Chakraborty & Danila Serra, 2021. "Gender and leadership in organizations: Promotions, demotions and angry workers," Working Papers 20210104-001, Texas A&M University, Department of Economics.
    19. Alexander Coutts & Boon Han Koh & Zahra Murad, 2024. "The signals we give: Performance feedback, gender, and competition," Working Papers in Economics & Finance 2024-02, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Economics and Finance Subject Group.
    20. Sharma, Karmini & Castagnetti, Alessandro, 2023. "Demand for information by gender: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 207(C), pages 172-202.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    leadership; gender; risk taking; social confidence; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    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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