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Tournaments with Safeguards: A Blessing or a Curse for Women?

Zhengyang Bao and Andreas Leibbrandt ()

No 02-20, Monash Economics Working Papers from Monash University, Department of Economics

Abstract: Workplace tournaments are one likely contributor to gender differences in labor market outcomes. Relative to men, women are often less eager to compete and thrive less under competitive pressure. We investigate a competitive workplace environment that may produce more gender-neutral outcomes: tournaments with safeguards. In our experiment, participants take part in a tournament with a real-effort task and choose whether they want to have a complementary safeguard that guarantees higher wages for the low ranked. As expected, we find that women are more likely than men to choose such a safeguard. However, obtaining a safeguard comes at a cost. On average, the safeguard causes lower performance, creates a gender wage gap, and over-proportionally disadvantages women. Thus, we provide novel evidence that easing women into tournaments can backfire.

Keywords: Workplace tournaments; gender differences; tournament safeguards; incentive contracts (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 29 pages
Date: 2020-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-hrm
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