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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Under Pressure: Gender Differences in Output Quality and Quantity under Competition and Time Constraints

Olga Shurchkov, Assistant Professor of Economics, Wellesley College

One explanation for gender inequality stems from the effects of the interaction between competition and two pressure sources, namely, task stereotypes and time constraints. This study uses a laboratory experiment to find that the gender gap in performance under competition and preferences for competition can be partly explained by the differential responses of men and women to these different pressures. In particular, while women underperform the men in a high-pressure math-based tournament, women greatly increase their performance levels and their willingness to compete in a low-pressure verbal environment, such that they actually surpass the men. This effect appears largely due to the fact that extra time in a verbal competition improves the quality of women's work, reducing their mistake share. On the other hand, men use this extra time to increase only the quantity of work, which results in a greater relative number of mistakes. In this session we will examine and discuss these findings and their potential implications of the dynamics of the workplace.

Lunch will be provided.

An RSVP is not required as this is an open event.

  • Location:
  • Date:
    Thursday, December 6, 2012
  • Time:
    11:40 AM

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John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
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