In this study I present experimental evidence of a novel channel yielding inequality persistence. In an initial experiment, results suggest that individuals respond to salient inequality by adjusting their performance beliefs to justify the inequality. Subsequent experiments reveal: i) that it is beliefs about relative ability, an ostensibly stable trait, rather than effort provision that respond to inequality; and that ii) unequal pay in an initial task affects willingness to compete on a subsequent task for male participants. Taken together, these patterns may cause inequality to become self-perpetuating. I conclude by discussing some implications of these findings.