Do Gender-Variant Preferences for Competition Persist in the Absence of Performance?
John Ifcher, Homa Zarghamee
The well-established gender gap in preferences for competition has been attributed to gender-variant feelings about performing in competitive environments. Using a novel task with agency, in which subjects experience competition but cannot perform, we find evidence that performing may be sufficient but not necessary to generate gender-variant preferences for competition. This suggests that the gender-gap cannot be eliminated by correcting beliefs alone; that eliminating performance—for example, routinizing tasks—may not eliminate the gender gap; and that there may be heretofore unidentified determinants of preferences for competition—for example, men may prefer payment schemes that are based on social comparison.