Do Women Give Up Competing More Easily? Evidence from the Lab and the Dutch Math Olympiad

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 16-096/I

49 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016 Last revised: 13 Nov 2016

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Huaiping Yuan

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: November 10, 2016

Abstract

We conduct three lab experiments and use field data from the Dutch Math Olympiad to study how the gender gap in willingness to compete evolves in response to experience. The main result is that women are more likely than men to stop competing if they lose. In the Dutch Math Olympiad, this means that girls who do not make the top 1000, and therefore do not advance to the next round, are less likely to compete again one year later while there is no effect on boys. In an additional experiment, we show that men are more likely than women to start and keep competing after receiving positive feedback. In a third experiment, we show that the gender difference in the reaction to losing is not present when winning and losing are random rather than the outcome of competition. The fact that women are more likely to give up competing after a setback may help to explain why fewer women make it to the top in business and academia.

Keywords: willingness to compete, gender, feedback, career decisions, laboratory experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, J01, J16

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas and Yuan, Huaiping, Do Women Give Up Competing More Easily? Evidence from the Lab and the Dutch Math Olympiad (November 10, 2016). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 16-096/I, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2867346 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2867346

Thomas Buser (Contact Author)

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/

Huaiping Yuan

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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