IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Gender Gap Cracks Under Pressure: A Detailed Look at Male and Female Performance Differences During Competitions


  • Christopher Cotton

    () (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

  • Frank McIntyre
  • Joseph Price


Using data from multiple-period math competitions, we show that males outperform females of similar ability during the first period. However, the male advantage is not found in any subsequent period of competition, or even after a two-week break from competition. Some evidence suggests that males may actually perform worse than females in later periods. The analysis considers various experimental treatments and finds that the existence of gender differences depends crucially on the design of the competition and the task at hand. Even when the male advantage does exist, it does not persist beyond the initial period of competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Cotton & Frank McIntyre & Joseph Price, 2010. "The Gender Gap Cracks Under Pressure: A Detailed Look at Male and Female Performance Differences During Competitions," Working Papers 2010-18, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:2010-18

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2009
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Günther, Christina & Ekinci, Neslihan Arslan & Schwieren, Christiane & Strobel, Martin, 2010. "Women can't jump?--An experiment on competitive attitudes and stereotype threat," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 395-401, September.
    2. Booth, Alison & Nolen, Patrick, 2012. "Choosing to compete: How different are girls and boys?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 542-555.
    3. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
    4. Kate Antonovics & Peter Arcidiacono & Randall Walsh, 2009. "The Effects of Gender Interactions in the Lab and in the Field," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 152-162, February.
    5. Juanna Schrøter Joensen & Helena Skyt Nielsen, 2009. "Is there a Causal Effect of High School Math on Labor Market Outcomes?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    6. Kristin Kleinjans, 2008. "Do Gender Differences in Preferences for Competition Matter for Occupational Expectations?," Economics Working Papers 2008-09, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    7. Wozniak, David, 2009. "Choices About Competition: Differences by gender and hormonal fluctuations, and the role of relative performance feedback," MPRA Paper 21097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Attali, Yigal & Neeman, Zvika & Schlosser, Analia, 2011. "Rise to the Challenge or Not Give a Damn: Differential Performance in High vs. Low Stakes Tests," IZA Discussion Papers 5693, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Christopher Cotton & Frank McIntyre & Joseph Price, 2010. "Causes of Gender Differences in Competition: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2010-19, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    3. Doris, Aedín & O’Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2013. "Gender, single-sex schooling and maths achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 104-119.

    More about this item


    competitiveness; gender differences; effort and productivity; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:2010-18. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher Parmeter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.