Title: Gender, competitiveness, and willingness to guess: Evidence from the lab and the PSU
I will present results from two studies.
One is a experiment examining gender differences in willingness to compete against one’s own past performance. In many countries, including Chile, women have worse labor market outcomes and hold fewer leadership positions than men. A literature in economics suggests that this may be in part because women are less willing than men to compete against other individuals, and thus avoid entering high-paying careers and negotiating promotions and pay raises. Our results indicate that when it comes to competing against their own self, women are as competitive as men. This is true both for a stereotypically male and a stereotypically female task, and after controlling for characteristics such as self-confidence and risk aversion. The results provide insight into the feasibility and potential of using self-improvement contracts as gender-neutral incentive mechanisms.
The second study uses data from the Chilean college entrance exam (PSU) to examine whether the recent removal of penalties for wrong answers has helped to narrow the gender gap in test scores. Building on a previous laboratory experiment, our results suggest that prior to the policy change, women were less willing than men to guess an answer to questions they were unsure of, and thus left more questions blank, which hurt their performance. The removal of penalties for wrong answers has stopped this suboptimal strategy, and seems to have improved women’s test scores relative to men’s.
Postdoctoral Research Officer
Santiago Centre for Experimental Social Sciences
Nuffield College, University of Oxford
Universidad de Santiago de Chile
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