Competing Against the Opposite Sex

UCSD Economics Working Paper No. 2003-08

20 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2003

See all articles by Kate Antonovics

Kate Antonovics

University of California, San Diego

Peter Arcidiacono

Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Randall P. Walsh

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 1, 2003

Abstract

Given the tournament-style structure of many aspects of the labor market, one potentially powerful explanation for gender differences in pay and promotion is that men and women respond differently to competitive environments. We examine data from the high-stakes television game show The Weakest Link in order to determine whether men outperform women in competitive settings and whether the performance of men and women is affected by the gender of their opponents. The data show that in head-to-head competition men beat their female opponents over 72% of the time. Controlling for ability using past performance explains at most 27% of this differential. Our results also suggest that men's relative success arises because men perform better when they compete against women than against men, and that the higher the proportion of women among their competitors the better men perform. In contrast, we do not find strong evidence that the performance of women is affected by the gender of their opponents.

Keywords: Gender, Competition, Performance, Experiments

JEL Classification: C93, J16

Suggested Citation

Antonovics, Kate and Arcidiacono, Peter and Walsh, Randall P., Competing Against the Opposite Sex (June 1, 2003). UCSD Economics Working Paper No. 2003-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=410929 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.410929

Kate Antonovics (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego ( email )

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Peter Arcidiacono

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Randall P. Walsh

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

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Boulder, CO 80309-0256
United States
303-492-4599 (Phone)
303-492-8622 (Fax)

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