Competing by Default: A New Way to Break the Glass Ceiling
61 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017 Last revised: 26 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 26, 2017
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: Suggested Citation