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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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  2. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico, 2006. "Peers at Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 5870, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  5. 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.
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  14. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," Economics Discussion Papers 672, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  15. 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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  17. 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.
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