Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?

37 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2009

See all articles by Alison L. Booth

Alison L. Booth

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Patrick J. Nolen

University of Essex; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

Using a controlled experiment, we examine the role of nurture in explaining the stylized fact that women shy away from competition. Our subjects (students just under 15 years of age) attend publicly-funded single-sex and coeducational schools. We find robust differences between the competitive choices of girls from single-sex and coed schools. Moreover, girls from single-sex schools behave more like boys even when randomly assigned to mixed-sex experimental groups. Thus it is untrue that the average female avoids competitive behaviour more than the average male. This suggests that observed gender differences might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

Keywords: competitive behaviour, experiment, gender, piece-rate, tournament

JEL Classification: C91, C92, J16, J33

Suggested Citation

Booth, Alison L. and Nolen, Patrick J., Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4027, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1351191

Alison L. Booth (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
+61 2 6125 3285 (Phone)
+61 2 6125 0182 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Patrick J. Nolen

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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