Gender Differences in Performance Under Competition: Is There a Stereotype Threat Shadow?

30 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2021

See all articles by Diogo Geraldes

Diogo Geraldes

Utrecht School of Economics - Economics Section

Arno Riedl

Maastricht University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Netspar

Martin Strobel

Maastricht University - Department of Economics; Maastricht University - International Institute of Infonomics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 23, 2020

Abstract

The gender gap in income and leadership positions in many domains of our society is an undisputed pervasive phenomenon. One explanation for the disadvantaged position of women put forward in the economic and psychology literature is the weaker response of women to competitive incentives. Despite the large amount of literature trying to explain this fact, the precise mechanisms behind the gender difference in competitive responsiveness are still not fully uncovered. In this paper, we use laboratory experiments to study the potential role of stereotype threat on the response of men and women to competitive incentives in mixed-gender competition. We use a real effort math task to induce an implicit stereotype threat against women in one treatment. In additional treatments we, respectively, reinforce this stereotype threat and induce a stereotype threat against men. In contrast to much of the literature we do not observe that women are less competitive than men, neither when there is an implicit nor when there is an explicit stereotype threat against women. We attribute this to two factors which differentiates our experiment from previous ones. We control, first, for inter-individual performance differences using a within-subject design, and, second, for risk differences between non-competitive and competitive environments by making the former risky. We do find an adverse stereotype threat effect on the performance of men when there is an explicit stereotype threat against them. In that case any positive performance effect of competition is nullified by the stereotype threat. Overall, our results indicate that a stereotype threat has negative competitive performance effects only if there is information contradicting an existing stereotype. This suggests that the appropriate intervention to prevent the adverse effect of stereotype threat in performance is to avoid any information referring to the stereotype.

Keywords: Competitiveness, gender gaps, stereotype threat, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D01, J16

Suggested Citation

Geraldes, Diogo and Riedl, Arno M. and Strobel, Martin, Gender Differences in Performance Under Competition: Is There a Stereotype Threat Shadow? (December 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3754872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3754872

Diogo Geraldes

Utrecht School of Economics - Economics Section ( email )

Kriekenpitplein 21-22
Adam Smith Building
Utrecht, +31 30 253 7373 3584 EC
Netherlands
0031631169208 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/diogogeraldes/

Arno M. Riedl (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

Department of Microeconomics & Public Economics
P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

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

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Netspar ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Martin Strobel

Maastricht University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands
+31 (0)43 38-83646 (Phone)
+31 (0)43 38-84878 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://Martin.Strobel.infonomics.nl

Maastricht University - International Institute of Infonomics ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands
+31 (0)43 38-83885 (Phone)
+31 (0)43 38-84905 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://Martin.Strobel.infonomics.nl

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