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Are females scared of competing with males? Results from a field experiment

, , , Department of Economics, Statistics and Finance, Italy

Economics of Education Review Volume 48, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We conducted a field experiment involving 720 Italian undergraduate students to investigate the existence of gender differences in performance in competitive settings and whether performance is affected by one's opponent gender. The experimental design was aimed at neutralizing other differences in psychological attitudes, such as self-confidence and risk aversion, that are typically considered as potential explanations of gender differences in competitive environments. Students were invited to undertake a midterm exam under a tournament scheme having as a prize some bonus points to add to the final grade. Students competed in pairs of equal predicted ability but different gender composition. In a competitive setting in which risk aversion, feedback provision and self-confidence have little relevance, we find that women tend to perform similarly to men. The gender of one's competitor does not play any role in shaping students’ behavior. Men and women perform similarly both in the competitive and in the non-competitive environment.


De Paola, M., Gioia, F. & Scoppa, V. (2015). Are females scared of competing with males? Results from a field experiment. Economics of Education Review, 48(1), 117-128. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 2, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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