Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes

40 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 22 Nov 2021

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Martijn J. van den Assem

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Dennie van Dolder

University of Essex - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 19, 2021

Abstract

We examine gender differences in willingness to compete, using a setting with exceptionally high stakes. Our data are from a long-running television game show where in every episode the winner of an elimination competition plays a game of chance worth hundreds of thousands of euros. At several stages of this competition, contestants face a choice between continuing to compete and opting out in exchange for a comparatively modest prize. When there is no strategic interaction between contestants, we observe the well-known pattern that women are less likely to compete than men, but this difference derives entirely from women avoiding competition against men. When there is strategic interaction and contestants should take the willingness to compete of their opponent into account, women again avoid competing against men. Men then seem to anticipate the lower competitiveness of female opponents, as evidenced by their greater tendency to compete against women. Ability differences are unlikely to explain these results. Our findings show that the gender difference in willingness to compete also occurs in a setting with exceptionally high stakes and underline the importance of the gender of competitors. The results are particularly relevant for understanding and addressing the persistent gender gap at the male-dominated higher rungs of the career ladder.

Keywords: gender differences, competitiveness, willingness to compete, game show

JEL Classification: D91, J16

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas and van den Assem, Martijn J. and van Dolder, Dennie, Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes (November 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3537678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3537678

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, North Holland 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/thomasbuser/

Martijn J. Van den Assem

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Dennie Van Dolder (Contact Author)

University of Essex - Department of Economics ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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