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Choosing to Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?

  • Booth, Alison L.

    ()

    (Australian National University)

  • Nolen, Patrick J.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

Using a controlled experiment, we examine the role of nurture in explaining the stylized fact that women shy away from competition. Our subjects (students just under 15 years of age) attend publicly-funded single-sex and coeducational schools. We find robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from single-sex and coed schools. Moreover, girls from single-sex schools behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4027.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4027.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2012, 81 (2), 542 - 555
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4027
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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. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  3. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The U.S. Gender Pay Gap in the 1990S: Slowing Convergence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 45-66, October.
  4. Marie-Claire Villeval & Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 0512, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  5. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2006. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wages Distribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 510, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  6. 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.
  7. Lise Vesterlund, 2008. "How Costly is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Working Papers 342, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2008.
  8. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  9. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2006. "Peers at Work," NBER Working Papers 12508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Armin Falk & David Huffman & Gert Wagner & Jurgen Schupp & Thomas Dohmen & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey," Framed Field Experiments 00140, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Timothy N. Cason & William A. Masters & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "Entry Into Winner-Take-All And Proportional-Prize Contests:An Experimental Study," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1231, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  12. Albrecht, James & Björklund, Anders & Vroman, Susan, 2001. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," IZA Discussion Papers 282, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Vandegrift, Donald & Yavas, Abdullah, 2009. "Men, women, and competition: An experimental test of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 554-570, October.
  14. Hoff, Karla & Pandey, Priyanka, 2004. "Belief systems and durable inequalities : an experimental investigation of Indian caste," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3351, The World Bank.
  15. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," Economics Discussion Papers 672, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  17. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  18. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  19. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  20. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  21. Katharine G. Abraham & James L. Medoff, 1983. "Length of Service and the Operation of Internal Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 1085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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