NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Carmit Segal

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Working Papers

April 2008How Costly is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness
with Muriel Niederle, Lise Vesterlund: w13923
Recent research documents that while men are eager to compete, women often shy away from competitive environments. A consequence is that few women enter and win competitions. Using experimental methods we examine how affirmative action affects competitive entry. We find that when women are guaranteed equal representation among winners, more women and fewer men enter competitions, and the response exceeds that predicted by changes in the probability of winning. An explanation for this response is that under affirmative action the probability of winning depends not only on one's rank relative to other group members, but also on one's rank within gender. Both beliefs on rank and attitudes towards competition change when moving to a more gender-specific competition. The changes in competitive ...

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