Are Women Less Competitive Than Men? Study Casts Doubt On The Theory

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Science News – The theory has been touted as a possible explanation for America’s longstanding gender wage gap. But a new study suggests that women exhibit their competitiveness differently.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Arizona randomly assigned 238 participants and divided them into two different groups based on their genders. Then, they split the participants in each of those groups into four-person subgroups.

Among the three rounds, the first and second ones included the same task of solving as many math tables (up to 20) as possible in two minutes. Based on their performance, the participants were paid different amounts of money, while a few of them received nothing.

In the second round, two participants of a specific group were additionally given the right to decide how much of the prize money to share with one of the lower performing participants. In the third round, all participants were allowed to choose which payment scheme they preferred from the two previous rounds, and participants of a specific group were given the option to share the winnings with one of the losing participants.

The study findings showed that the number of women who chose the competitive option nearly doubled when given the option to share their winnings, compared to the men participants.

Later, the researchers suggest two different theories regarding why women are more inclined to compete when they can share the winnings. One theory is that the female participants are simply interested in controlling the way the winnings are divided among the other participants. Another says that female participants may be inclined to smooth over bad feelings with losers of the competition.

“We really have to ask what it is about this social incentive that drives women to compete. We think it’s recognizing the different costs and benefits that come from your different biological and cultural constraints,” said Mary L. Rigdon, lead researcher of the study.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Cassar, A., & Rigdon, M. L. (2021, November 9). Prosocial option increases women’s entry into competition. PNAS.

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