Gender Differences in the Response to Competition

Posted: 1 Mar 2011

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 2008


To investigate whether men and women respond differently to competition and whether this response depends on the gender mix of the group, the author examines outcomes of the Mellon Foundation's Graduate Education Initiative, a competitive fellowship program instituted in 1991 that was aimed at increasing graduation rates and decreasing time to degree. Men's performance, as measured by time to candidacy, increased 10% in response to the program, with the largest gains for men in departments with the highest proportions of female students. Women did not increase performance, on average, but the response of women did differ greatly depending on the gender mix of their peers, with a more positive response when a larger fraction of the group was female. These results suggest that when devising incentive schemes, policy-makers may need to be mindful of an inherent trade-off between increasing aggregate outcomes through the use of competition and achieving gender equity.

Keywords: gender, competition

JEL Classification: J16, J24, I21

Suggested Citation

Price, Joseph, Gender Differences in the Response to Competition (April 1, 2008). Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 61, No. 3, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Joseph Price (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University ( email )

130 FOB
Provo, UT 84604
United States

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