Does Concealing Gender Identity Help Women Win the Competition? An Empirical Investigation into Online Video Games
Forthcoming, Marketing Science
47 Pages Posted: 6 May 2022
Date Written: April 19, 2022
Signs of the gender gap are ubiquitous in society. Psychological theory suggests that when gender stereotypes are associated with competition, men exert greater effort against women (dominance effect) and women exert less effort against men (submissive effect), which implies that women are at a disadvantage when competing against men. Although multiple factors contribute to the gender gap, attempts to identify these factors have been hampered because gender, as a personal trait, is difficult to manipulate. Herein, the authors investigate submissive and dominance effects in the context of an online video game. They exploit a unique feature of the data: players have two-dimensional gender identities, one birth and one virtual. The results provide support for the dominance but not the submissive effect: when men perceive their opponent as female, they exert increased effort in competition, but women seem unaffected by their opponent’s gender, which leads to poorer performance for women when competing against men, unless women conceal their gender. The findings provide important insights for how firms and regulators can help maintain gender equality in online environments. This paper also provides an example of how to assess social disparity with observational data by using a unique feature of the digital world.
Keywords: social disparity, concealed identity, gender, gender stereotypes, competition
JEL Classification: M3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation