Competing by Default: A New Way to Break the Glass Ceiling

61 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017 Last revised: 26 Dec 2017

Nisvan Erkal

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics

Lata Gangadharan

Monash University

Erte Xiao

Department of Economics, Monash University

Date Written: December 26, 2017

Abstract

Leadership selection in organizations often requires candidates to actively choose to participate in the competition. We conjecture that such an Opt-in mechanism may contribute to the gender gap observed in leadership positions. We design an Opt-out mechanism where the default is to compete for a leadership position and individuals can opt out of competition. Data from our experiments show that women are more likely to compete for leadership positions under the Opt-out mechanism and this effectively reduces the gender gap in competition. When given a choice between the Opt-in and Opt-out mechanisms, individuals are equally likely to choose either one. We conclude that the Opt-out mechanism can be an effective and feasible way to break the glass ceiling.

Keywords: Glass Ceiling, Gender Inequality, Competition, Leadership, Default, Laboratory Experiments

JEL Classification: C92, J16, D01

Suggested Citation

Erkal, Nisvan and Gangadharan, Lata and Xiao, Erte, Competing by Default: A New Way to Break the Glass Ceiling (December 26, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3022386 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3022386

Nisvan Erkal

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics ( email )

Victoria, 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 3307 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 6899 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nisvanerkal.net

Lata Gangadharan

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Erte Xiao (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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