Gender and Competition: The Role of Socialization

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 29.06.2007, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Uri Gneezy (University of California, San Diego)


This study uses an experimental task to explore whether there are gender differences in selecting into competitive environments across two distinct societies: the Maasai in Tanzania and the Khasi in India. One unique aspect of these civilizations is that the Maasai represent a textbook example of a patriarchal society whereas the Khasi are matrilineal. Similar to the extant evidence drawn from experimental data in Western cultures, Maasai men opt to compete at roughly twice the rate as Maasai women. Interestingly, this result is reversed amongst the Khasi, where women choose the competitive environment considerably more often than Khasi men, and even choose to compete weakly more often than Maasai men. These results provide initial insights into the underpinnings of the factors hypothesized to be important determinants of the observed gender differences. In particular, the data provide a first piece of evidence that the existing societal structure is crucially linked to the observed gender differences in competitiveness.

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