The Gender Gap Cracks Under Pressure: A Detailed Look at Male and Female Performance Differences During Competitions
Using data from multiple-period math competitions, we show that males outperform females of similar ability during the first period. However, the male advantage is not found in any subsequent period of competition, or even after a two-week break from competition. Some evidence suggests that males may actually perform worse than females in later periods. The analysis considers various experimental treatments and finds that the existence of gender differences depends crucially on the design of the competition and the task at hand. Even when the male advantage does exist, it does not persist beyond the initial period of competition.
This project was funded by a Mentoring Environment Grant from Brigham Young University. We are grateful for helpful comments from David Sims, Tal Gross, Lars Lefgren, Oscar Mitnik and seminar participants at the University of Miami, Brigham Young University and the Southern Economic Association Meetings. Excellent research assistance was provided by Dan Argyle, Jason Cook, Emily Leslie, Phillip Manwaring, Nolan Pope, Dan Sullivan, and Jeff Swigert. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.