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Gender, Willingness to Compete and Career Choices Along the Whole Ability Distribution

Author

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  • Thomas (T.) Buser

    (University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute, The Netherlands)

  • Noemi Peter

    (University of Groningen)

  • Stefan Wolter

    (University of Bern)

Abstract

Men are generally found to be more willing to compete than women and there is growing evidence that willingness to compete is a predictor of individual and gender differences in career decisions and labor market outcomes. However, most existing evidence comes from the top of the education and talent distribution. In this study, we use incentivized choices from more than 1500 Swiss lower-secondary school students to ask how the gender gap in willingness to compete varies with ability and how willingness to compete predicts career choices along the whole ability distribution. Our main results are: 1. The gender gap in willingness to compete is essentially zero among the lowest-ability students, but increases steadily with ability and reaches 30-40 percentage points for the highest-ability students. 2. Willingness to compete predicts career choices along the whole ability distribution. At the top of the ability distribution, students who compete are more likely to choose a math or science-related academic specialization and girls who compete are more likely to choose academic over vocational education in general. At the middle, competitive boys are more likely to choose a business-oriented apprenticeship, while competitive girls are more likely to choose a math-intensive apprenticeship or an academic education. At the bottom, students who compete are more likely to succeed in securing an apprenticeship position. We also discuss how our findings relate to persistent gender differences in career outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas (T.) Buser & Noemi Peter & Stefan Wolter, 2017. "Gender, Willingness to Compete and Career Choices Along the Whole Ability Distribution," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-081/I, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20170081
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    Cited by:

    1. Buser, Thomas & Geijtenbeek, Lydia & Plug, Erik, 2018. "Sexual orientation, competitiveness and income," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 191-198.
    2. Кирюшина М. А. & Рудаков В. Н., 2021. "Гендерные Различия В Заработной Плате Выпускников Вузов И Учреждений Спо На Начальном Этапе Карьеры," Вопросы образования // Educational Studies Moscow, National Research University Higher School of Economics, issue 2, pages 172-198.
    3. Buser, Thomas & Ranehill, Eva & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2021. "Gender differences in willingness to compete: The role of public observability," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    4. Amanda Goodall & Margit Osterloh & Mandy Fong, 2020. "Women Shy Away From Competition – How To Overcome It," CREMA Working Paper Series 2020-21, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    5. Kuhn, Andreas & Wolter, Stefan C., 2020. "Things versus People: Gender Differences in Vocational Interests and in Occupational Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 13380, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Ana Fernandes & Martin Huber & Giannina Vaccaro, 2021. "Gender differences in wage expectations," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(6), pages 1-24, June.
    7. Buser, Thomas & Cappelen, Alexander & Tungodden, Bertil, 2021. "Fairness and Willingness to Compete," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 8/2021, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    8. Katharina Jaik & Stefan C. Wolter, 2018. "From Dreams to Reality: Market Forces and Changes from Occupational Intention to Occupational Choice," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0149, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Oct 2018.
    9. Fallucchi, Francesco & Nosenzo, Daniele & Reuben, Ernesto, 2020. "Measuring preferences for competition with experimentally-validated survey questions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 402-423.
    10. Jouini, Elyès & Karehnke, Paul & Napp, Clotilde, 2018. "Stereotypes, underconfidence and decision-making with an application to gender and math," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 34-45.
    11. Andreas Kuhn & Stefan C. Wolter, 2018. "The Strength of Gender Norms and Gender-Stereotypical Occupational Aspirations Among Adolescents," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0151, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    12. Dennie van Dolder & Martijn van Assem & Thomas Buser, 2020. "Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-011/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    13. Margarita Kiryushina & Victor Rudakov, 2021. "The Gender Gap in Early-Career Wages of Universities' and Vocational Education Institutes' Graduates," Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, National Research University Higher School of Economics, issue 2, pages 172-198.
    14. Simone Balestra & Aurelien Sallin & Stefan C. Wolter, 2020. "High-Ability Influencers? The Heterogeneous Effects of Gifted Classmates," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0170, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    15. Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2021. "Insights into the Economic Benefits of VPET for Individuals: Theoretical and Empirical Results for Researchers and Practitioners," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0180, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    16. Anna Katharina Pikos & Alexander Straub, 2020. "Mind the Absent Gap: Gender-Specific Competitive Behavior in Nonprofessional Sports," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 21(3), pages 215-233, April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    willingness to compete; gender; career decisions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • 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

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