The Competitive Woman (joint work with Y. Jane Zhang)

  • Date: Apr 17, 2018
  • Time: 14:30
  • Speaker: Alessandra Cassar
  • University of San Francisco
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Ground Floor
A large body of experimental evidence suggests that women have a lower desire to compete than men. Here, we advance the hypothesis that this gap may depend on how we elicit such preferences, as different incentives could activate competition in different spheres, depending on culture. This hypothesis is tested through a series of experiments using vouchers (in-kind restricted use of cash) in China, Colombia, Bosnia and Togo. Data on parents show that, once the incentives are switched from monetary to child-benefitting, gender differences disappear; data on young adult without children show that once cash is substituted by gender stereotypical vouchers (make-up or sporting good vouchers) gender differences decrease. Cultural elements in each society matter, as not all societies exhibit a gender gap. As expected, competitiveness is higher where resources are more scares, as among the displaced women in Colombia and the women in polygyny arrangements in Togo. These results suggest that female competitiveness can be just as intense as male competitiveness, given the right goals and considering the differential constraints that societies put on women and men, indicating important implications for policies designed to promote gender equality.
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