Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions

57 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2010 Last revised: 19 Mar 2023

See all articles by Jeffrey Flory

Jeffrey Flory

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance

Andreas Leibbrandt

Monash University

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2010

Abstract

Recently an important line of research using laboratory experiments has provided a new potential reason for why we observe gender imbalances in labor markets: men are more competitively inclined than women. Whether, and to what extent, such preferences yield differences in naturally-occurring labor market outcomes remains an open issue. We address this question by exploring job-entry decisions in a natural field experiment where we randomized nearly 7,000 interested job-seekers into different compensation regimes. By varying the role that individual competition plays in setting the wage, we are able to explore whether competition, by itself, can cause differential job entry. The data highlight the power of the compensation regime in that women disproportionately shy away from competitive work settings. Yet, there are important factors that attenuate the gender differences, including whether the job is performed in teams, whether the job task is female-oriented, and the local labor market.

Suggested Citation

Flory, Jeffrey and Leibbrandt, Andreas and List, John A., Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions (November 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16546, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1712224

Jeffrey Flory (Contact Author)

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/jfloryeconomics/

Andreas Leibbrandt

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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