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Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Public Observability

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  • Buser, Thomas

    (University of Amsterdam and the Tinbergen Institute)

  • Ranehill, Eva

    (University of Zürich)

  • van Veldhuizen, Roel

    (WZB Berlin Social Science Center)

Abstract

A recent literature emphasizes the importance of the gender gap in willingness to compete as a partial explanation for gender differences in labor market outcomes. However, whereas experiments investigating willingness to compete typically do so in anonymous environments, real world competitions often have a more public nature, which introduces potential social image concerns. If such image concerns are important, we should expect public observability to further exacerbate the gender gap. We test this prediction using a laboratory experiment that varies whether the decision to compete, and its outcome, is publicly observable. Across four different treatments, however, all treatment effects are close to zero. We conclude that the public observability of decisions and outcomes does not exert a significant impact on male or female willingness to compete, indicating that the role of social image concerns related to competitive decisions may be limited.

Suggested Citation

  • Buser, Thomas & Ranehill, Eva & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2017. "Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Public Observability," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 40, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
  • Handle: RePEc:rco:dpaper:40
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    16. María Ladrón de Guevara Rodríguez & Oscar David Marcenaro-Gutierrez & Luis Alejandro Lopez-Agudo, 2023. "On the Gender Gap of Soft-Skills: the Spanish Case," Child Indicators Research, Springer;The International Society of Child Indicators (ISCI), vol. 16(1), pages 167-197, February.
    17. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & Christina Rott & Olga Stoddard, 2021. "Increasing Workplace Diversity: Evidence from a Recruiting Experiment at a Fortune 500 Company," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 56(1), pages 73-92.
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    19. Christopher Roby, 2022. "Social Information and Gender Differences in Competitive Preferences," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 67(1), pages 24-45, March.
    20. Andersson, Per A. & Erlandsson, Arvid & Västfjäll, Daniel & Tinghög, Gustav, 2020. "Prosocial and moral behavior under decision reveal in a public environment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender differences; competitiveness; social image; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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