Gender and Choice over Co-workers: Experimental Evidence
77 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2021 Last revised: 23 Mar 2022
Date Written: March 17, 2022
We study whether choice over co-workers matters for performance in gender-diverse teams. We carried out a lab-in-the-field experiment where students were randomly assigned co-workers to help them perform on tests. Co-worker allocation was randomized on two dimensions: (1) gender and (2) student preference for that co-worker at baseline. We find that assigning a randomly-chosen male co-worker reduces the performance of female students (12% of the average score) relative to working alone, while a preferred male co-worker has a positive yet statistically insignificant effect on performance (6% of the average score). The effects are heterogeneous across the gender stereotype of the questions and materialize even though the two types of male co-workers have the same average ability. Our results show that choice matters for the performance of male students too, but only in gender stereotypical categories. We also find that female students were significantly less likely to access additional information in the presence of randomly-chosen male co-workers whereas male students were more likely to access it. This suggests that the mechanisms affecting collaboration are different for men and women.
Keywords: Gender, diversity, teams, choice, performance, stereotype, information, communication, advising, help in organizations
JEL Classification: J1, J15, J16, M50, O15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation