Are Women Less Effective Leaders Than Men? Evidence from Experiments Using Coordination Games

University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 368, October 2020

84 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2020

See all articles by Lea Heursen

Lea Heursen

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Eva Ranehill

University of Gothenburg - Department of Economics

Roberto A. Weber

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 28, 2020

Abstract

We study whether one reason behind female underrepresentation in leadership is that female leaders are less effective at coordinating action by followers. Two experiments using coordination games investigate whether female leaders are less successful than males in persuading followers to coordinate on efficient equilibria. Group performance hinges on higher-order beliefs about the leader’s capacity to convince followers to pursue desired actions, making beliefs that women are less effective leaders potentially self-confirming. We find no evidence that such bias impacts actual leadership performance, identifying a precisely-estimated null effect. We show that this absence of an effect is surprising given experts’ priors.

Keywords: Gender, coordination games, leadership, experiment

JEL Classification: D23, C72, C92, J1

Suggested Citation

Heursen, Lea and Ranehill, Eva and Weber, Roberto A., Are Women Less Effective Leaders Than Men? Evidence from Experiments Using Coordination Games (October 28, 2020). University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 368, October 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3732639 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3732639

Lea Heursen (Contact Author)

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München ( email )

Munich

HOME PAGE: http://www.leaheursen.com

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin ( email )

Humboldt Universität
Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, 10099
Germany

Eva Ranehill

University of Gothenburg - Department of Economics ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Gothenburg, 41124
Sweden

Roberto A. Weber

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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