Authors: Klarita Gërxhani, Jordi Brandts, Arthur Schram
We present a comprehensive study of gender differences in performance caused by different dimensions of competition – rivalry for resources and status ranking. We also examine four possible mechanisms behind such gender differences. These mechanisms are (1) gendered beliefs about performance differences in competitiveness; (2) concerns about others’ well-being; (3) gender composition of the competitors; (4) gender differences in the effort exerted in a task. Our results show that, first, in the absence of any competitive dimension men and women perform equally well. Any competitive dimension, however, leads to women doing worse than men. Rivalry for resources and status ranking act as substitutes, that is, either dimension of competition leads to gender inequality. These gender differences are predominantly caused by women decreasing their performance, and only partly by men increasing theirs. We find evidence that two of the mechanisms we study play a role; men’s gendered beliefs and women’s concerns for others are activated. We conclude that while the demand for more gender equality has risen, the supply has not necessarily kept up, and any attempt at reducing the gender inequality in the labor market must address both dimensions of competition and the underlying men’s gender beliefs.
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