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Gender, Willingness to Compete and Career Choices along the Whole Ability Distribution

Author

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  • Buser, Thomas

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Peter, Noemi

    (University of Groningen)

  • Wolter, Stefan C.

    (University of Bern)

Abstract

Men are generally found to be more willing to compete than women and there is growing evidence that willingness to compete is a predictor of individual and gender differences in career decisions and labor market outcomes. However, most existing evidence comes from the top of the education and talent distribution. In this study, we use incentivized choices from more than 1500 Swiss lower-secondary school students to ask how the gender gap in willingness to compete varies with ability and how willingness to compete predicts career choices along the whole ability distribution. Our main results are: 1. The gender gap in willingness to compete is essentially zero among the lowest-ability students, but increases steadily with ability and reaches 30–40 percentage points for the highest-ability students. 2. Willingness to compete predicts career choices along the whole ability distribution. At the top of the ability distribution, students who compete are more likely to choose a math or science-related academic specialization and girls who compete are more likely to choose academic over vocational education in general. At the middle, competitive boys are more likely to choose a business-oriented apprenticeship, while competitive girls are more likely to choose a math-intensive apprenticeship or an academic education. At the bottom, students who compete are more likely to succeed in securing an apprenticeship position. We also discuss how our findings relate to persistent gender differences in career outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Buser, Thomas & Peter, Noemi & Wolter, Stefan C., 2017. "Gender, Willingness to Compete and Career Choices along the Whole Ability Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 10976, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10976
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    7. Clotilde Napp & Thomas Breda, 2022. "The stereotype that girls lack talent: A worldwide investigation," Post-Print halshs-03672465, HAL.
    8. Jouini, Elyès & Karehnke, Paul & Napp, Clotilde, 2018. "Stereotypes, underconfidence and decision-making with an application to gender and math," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 34-45.
    9. Fallucchi, Francesco & Nosenzo, Daniele & Reuben, Ernesto, 2020. "Measuring preferences for competition with experimentally-validated survey questions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 402-423.
    10. Buser, Thomas & Cappelen, Alexander & Gneezy, Uri & Hoffman, Moshe & Tungodden, Bertil, 2021. "Competitiveness, gender and handedness," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).
    11. Margarita Kiryushina & Victor Rudakov, 2021. "The Gender Gap in Early-Career Wages of Universities' and Vocational Education Institutes' Graduates," Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, National Research University Higher School of Economics, issue 2, pages 172-198.
    12. Buser, Thomas & van den Assem, Martijn J. & van Dolder, Dennie, 2023. "Gender and willingness to compete for high stakes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 206(C), pages 350-370.
    13. Ana Fernandes & Martin Huber & Giannina Vaccaro, 2021. "Gender differences in wage expectations," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(6), pages 1-24, June.
    14. Clotilde Napp & Thomas Breda, 2022. "The stereotype that girls lack talent: A worldwide investigation," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-03672465, HAL.
    15. Buser, Thomas & Geijtenbeek, Lydia & Plug, Erik, 2018. "Sexual orientation, competitiveness and income," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 191-198.
    16. Charness, Gary & Dao, Lien & Shurchkov, Olga, 2022. "Competing now and then: The effects of delay on competitiveness across gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 198(C), pages 612-630.
    17. Riener, Gerhard & Wagner, Valentin, 2018. "Gender differences in willingness to compete and answering multiple-choice questions—The role of age," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 86-89.
    18. Buser, Thomas & Cappelen, Alexander & Tungodden, Bertil, 2021. "Fairness and Willingness to Compete," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 8/2021, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    19. Katharina Jaik & Stefan C. Wolter, 2018. "From Dreams to Reality: Market Forces and Changes from Occupational Intention to Occupational Choice," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0149, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Oct 2018.
    20. Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2021. "Insights into the Economic Benefits of VPET for Individuals: Theoretical and Empirical Results for Researchers and Practitioners," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0180, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    21. Anna Katharina Pikos & Alexander Straub, 2020. "Mind the Absent Gap: Gender-Specific Competitive Behavior in Nonprofessional Sports," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 21(3), pages 215-233, April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    willingness to compete; gender; career decisions; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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