Thursday, December 3, 2009

gender differences in competition go away with experience

A number of papers present evidence that males tend to perform better during competitions than females. This is true, even if we compare the performance of a male and female who both perform equally well at the task when there is no competition involved. However, the papers that find gender differences use data from one-round competitions. In a recent working paper, Christopher Cotton (this is me; U Miami), Frank McIntyre, and Joseph Price (both at BYU) test for the gender differences in a series of five-round math competitions.

From our abstract:
Past research finds that males outperform females in competitive situations. Using data from multiple-round math tournaments, we verify this finding during the initial round of competition. The performance gap between males and females, however, disappears after the first round. In later rounds, only math ability (not gender) serves as a significant predictor of performance.
The gender difference is not robust to multiple rounds of competition. The evidence supports the argument that exposing females to competition (e.g., Title IX) may eliminate performance differences.

Link to the paper here.

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