Friday, June 09, 2006

Women Trail in Competitive Drive

After reading once again that:

Women who work full time earn about 76 percent as much as men, according to the Institute of Women's Policy Research.
It is nice to see some research into what might be the reason for that difference.
The study, done with Muriel Niederle of Stanford University, was designed to explore indirectly why nearly 70 percent of American women are in the labor force but hold only 2.5 percent of the top managerial positions.

Their conclusion: Women are just as skilled as men, but they don't have as strong a taste for competition.

The conclusion was based on an experiment done at the University of Pittsburgh, where Vesterlund is an economics professor, that asked groups of young men and women to add up as many sets of five two-digit numbers as they could in five minutes.

In the first round, everyone received 50 cents for each correct answer, and the men and women did equally well, solving an average of 10 problems each.

In the second round, they were put in groups of four and told that the person who solved the most problems would get $2 for each correct answer, while the other three would get nothing. Again, the men and women equaled each other, averaging 12 correct answers.

Then came the kicker. When participants were asked whether they wanted to go back to the "piece rate" payment method for solving problems or stick with the tournament approach, 75 percent of the men chose the winner-take-all tournament mode, but only 35 percent of the women did.

Even among men and women who were the best at solving problems, the gap was stark. In that group, 80 percent of the men chose the tournament approach, but only 50 percent of the women did.

First, the study clearly showed that women performed just as well as men.

Second, she said, the study showed that a disproportionate number of men who weren't that good at solving problems chose the competitive tournament mode — a phenomenon that may exist in the jousting for upper-management jobs in the real world.
This is interesting. It also helps to explain why women would seem to be equally likely to be good poker players, and yet at the highest levels of professional poker there are few women. It is hard to believe there is descrimination at play here, but the concept that women don't enjoy the competition as much would explain it.


1 comment:

viral said...

very interesting!

i would guess, though, that discrimination embedded in subtle ways is still at play, but i can't back up that hunch with studies ...

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.