Gender Differences in Repeated Competition: Evidence from School Math Contests
Posted: 5 Jun 2013
Date Written: February 1, 2013
The literature shows that males react more favorably than females to competitive incentives. This well known result, however, is based on experiments in which participants engage in only a one-shot contest. We conduct a series of math contests in elementary schools which are similar to past experiments except for one notable exception: subjects compete in five sequential contests, rather than a one-shot contest typically used. Although males outperform females in the first period contest, we find no evidence of a male advantage in subsequent periods. Females even outperform males in later periods. The data suggests that the relative overperformance of low-ability males and the underperformance of high-ability females are primarily responsible for the first period results. Additionally, even the first period male advantage disappears when we reduce the time pressure or change the task at hand.
Keywords: Competitiveness, Gender differences, Field experiment
JEL Classification: J16, J24, J78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation