Gender, Competition and Performance: Evidence from Real Tournaments

IEB Working Paper 2016/27

53 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2016  

Peter Backus

University of Warwick; University of Southampton

Maria Cubel

University of Barcelona - Department of Public Finance

Matej Guid

University of Ljubljana

Santiago Sanchez-Pages

University of Barcelona

Enrique López Mañas

Google, Inc.

Date Written: October 25, 2016

Abstract

There is a growing literature looking at how men and women respond differently to competition. We contribute to this literature by studying gender differences in performance in a high-stakes and male dominated competitive environment, expert chess tournaments. Our findings show that women under-perform compared to men of the same ability and that the gender composition of games drives this effect. Using within player variation in the conditionally random gender of their opponent, we find that women earn significantly worse outcomes against male opponents. We examine the mechanisms through which this effect operates by using a unique measure of within game quality of play. We find that the gender composition effect is driven by women playing worse against men, rather than by men playing better against women. The gender of the opponent does not affect a male player’s quality of play. We also find that men persist longer against women before resigning. These results suggest that the gender composition of competitions affects the behavior of both men and women in ways that are detrimental to the performance of women. Lastly, we study the effect of competitive pressure and find that players’ quality of play deteriorates when stakes increase, though we find no differential effect over the gender composition of games.

Keywords: Competition, Gender, Stereotype Threat, Chess

JEL Classification: D03, J16, J24, J70, L83, M50

Suggested Citation

Backus, Peter and Cubel, Maria and Guid, Matej and Sanchez-Pages, Santiago and Mañas, Enrique López, Gender, Competition and Performance: Evidence from Real Tournaments (October 25, 2016). IEB Working Paper 2016/27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2858984

Peter Backus

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

University of Southampton

University Rd.
Southampton SO17 1BJ, Hampshire SO17 1LP
United Kingdom

Maria Cubel (Contact Author)

University of Barcelona - Department of Public Finance ( email )

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585
Barcelona, 08007
Spain

Matej Guid

University of Ljubljana ( email )

Dunajska 104
Ljubljana, 1000
Slovenia

Santiago Sanchez-Pages

University of Barcelona ( email )

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585
Barcelona, 08007
Spain

Enrique López Mañas

Google, Inc. ( email )

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Second Floor
Mountain View, CA 94043
United States

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