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The Menstrual Cycle and Performance Feedback Alter Gender Differences in Competitive Choices

  • David Wozniak


    (Eastern Michigan University)

  • William T. Harbaugh


    (University of Oregon)

  • Ulrich Mayr


    (University of Oregon)

Economic experiments have shown that in mixed gender groups women are more reluctant than men to choose tournaments when given the choice between piece rate and winner-take-all tournament style compensation. These gender difference experiments have all relied on a framework where subjects were not informed of their abilities relative to potential competitors. We replicate these findings with math and word tasks, and then show that feedback about relative performance moves high ability females towards more competitive compensation schemes, moves low ability men towards less competitive schemes such as piece rate and group pay, and removes the average gender difference in compensation choices. We also examine between and within-subjects differences in choices for females across the menstrual cycle. We find women's relative reluctance to choose tournaments comes mostly from women in the low hormone phase of their menstrual cycle. Women in the high hormone phase are substantially more willing to compete than women in the low phase, though still somewhat less willing to compete than men. There are no significant differences between the choices of any of these groups after they receive relative performance feedback.

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Paper provided by University of Oregon Economics Department in its series University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers with number 2010-2.

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Date of creation: 28 Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ore:uoecwp:2010-2
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