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Are females scared of competing with males? Results from a field experiment

Maria De Paola (), Francesca Gioia () and Vincenzo Scoppa ()

Economics of Education Review, 2015, vol. 48, issue C, 117-128

Abstract: We conducted a field experiment involving 720 Italian undergraduate students to investigate the existence of gender differences in performance in competitive settings and whether performance is affected by one's opponent gender. The experimental design was aimed at neutralizing other differences in psychological attitudes, such as self-confidence and risk aversion, that are typically considered as potential explanations of gender differences in competitive environments. Students were invited to undertake a midterm exam under a tournament scheme having as a prize some bonus points to add to the final grade. Students competed in pairs of equal predicted ability but different gender composition. In a competitive setting in which risk aversion, feedback provision and self-confidence have little relevance, we find that women tend to perform similarly to men. The gender of one's competitor does not play any role in shaping students’ behavior. Men and women perform similarly both in the competitive and in the non-competitive environment.

Keywords: Gender differences; Attitude toward competition; Psychological differences; Tournaments; Field experiment; Student achievements (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 J16 J71 M51 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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Working Paper: Are Females Scared of Competing with Males? Results from a Field Experiment (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: Are Females Scared of Competing with Males? Results from a Field Experiment (2013) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.06.002

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