Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes

37 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 21 May 2020

See all articles by Dennie van Dolder

Dennie van Dolder

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics; Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx) - University of Nottingham

Martijn J. van den Assem

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Date Written: May 21, 2020

Abstract

We examine gender differences in competitiveness, using a TV game show where the winner of an elimination competition plays a game of chance worth hundreds of thousands of euros. At several stages of this high-stakes competition, contestants face a choice between continuing to compete and opting out in exchange for a comparatively modest prize. When strategic considerations are absent, we observe the well-known pattern that women are less likely to compete than men, but this difference derives entirely from women avoiding competition against men. When the decision to compete is strategic and contestants should factor in the competitiveness of others, women again avoid competing against men. Men, in turn, seem to anticipate the lower competitiveness of female opponents, as evidenced by their greater tendency to compete against women in such a situation. Ability differences are unlikely to explain these results. The findings underline the importance of the gender of competitors for the analysis of differences in willingness to compete, and shed new light on the persistent gender gap at the male-dominated higher rungs of the career ladder.

Keywords: gender differences, competitiveness, willingness to compete, game show

JEL Classification: D91, J16

Suggested Citation

van Dolder, Dennie and van den Assem, Martijn J. and Buser, Thomas, Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes (May 21, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3537678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3537678

Dennie Van Dolder (Contact Author)

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx) - University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

Martijn J. Van den Assem

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, North Holland 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/thomasbuser/

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