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Gender Differences and Dynamics in Competition: The Role of Luck

  • David Gill
  • Victoria Prowse

We present experimental evidence which sheds new light on why women may be less competitive than men.� Specifically, we observe striking differences in how men and women respond to good and bad luck in a competitive environment.� Following a loss, women tend to reduce effort, and the effect is independent of the monetary value of the prize that the women failed to win.� Men, on the other hand, reduce effort only after failing to win large prizes.� Responses to previous competitve outcomes explain about 11% of the variation that we observe in women's efforts, but only about 4% of the variation in the effort of men, and differential responses to luck account for about half of the gender performance gap in our experiment.� These findings help to explain both female underperformance in environments with repeated competition and the tendency for women to select into tournaments at a lower rate than men.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper564.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 564.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:564
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Rd. Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  3. Cason, Timothy & Masters, William & Sheremeta, Roman, 2010. "Entry into Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: An Experimental Study," MPRA Paper 49886, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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