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Under-achievement and the glass ceiling: Evidence from a TV game show

We use a Colombian TV game show to test gender differences in competitive behavior where there is no opportunity for discrimination and females face no genderspecific external constraints. Each game started with six contestants who had to answer general knowledge questions in private. There were five rounds of questions and, at the end of each, one participant was eliminated. Despite equality in starting numbers, women earn less than men and exit the game at a faster rate. In particular, there are more voluntary withdrawals by women than men. We draw an analogy between the game and the process by which employees rise through the levels of a corporation. As such, we note that “glass ceilings” may result, in part, from women’s own behavior and this raises the issue of how women are socialized to behave. At the same time, our results illustrate that maintaining and promoting gender diversity at the lower/middle ranks of organizations is necessary to obtain gender diversity at the top.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1165.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1165
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," NBER Working Papers 7732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  3. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  4. Thierry Post & Martijn J. van den Assem & Guido Baltussen & Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Deal or No Deal? Decision Making under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 38-71, March.
  5. Metrick, Andrew, 1995. "A Natural Experiment in "Jeopardy!"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 240-53, March.
  6. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  7. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 3-21, October.
  8. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin Hallock, 1999. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," Working Papers 805, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Gertner, Robert, 1993. "Game Shows and Economic Behavior: Risk-Taking on "Card Sharks."," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 507-21, May.
  10. Wood, Robert G & Corcoran, Mary E & Courant, Paul N, 1993. "Pay Differences among the Highly Paid: The Male-Female Earnings Gap in Lawyers' Salaries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 417-41, July.
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